It is time. Your college acceptances have come in and now you must make that life-changing decision: what will you choose? For many, this is sometimes the easiest and hardest decision of your life. Here are a few things to keep in mind when deciding which offer to choose:
Visit your top choices: If you are having a hard time deciding where to accept your decision, visit each school and decide from there where you feel most at home. Visiting a campus can really make or break the ultimate decision for a student. If you can’t visit, virtual tours are an option as colleges try to display the most common and necessary places on campus so students can get the best understanding and grasp of the campus possible. U.S. News & World Report says it best in these top 10 tips to make your final college choice:
- “Step away from the tour.” Be sure to take a moment to sit on the quad, away from the tour guides and admissions counselors. Experience the school for what if offers in that moment and let it resonate with you.
- “Connect with Alums from your Alma Mater.” Graduates from your high school can give amazing insight into the colleges they chose. Learning about the authentic student experience can help narrow down options on your college lists.
- “Be mindful of debt.” Don’t always follow the reputation or “name” of a school. College is an investment in your future and you shouldn’t fear loans but be sure to let your finances guide you because its much more important to graduate without piles of debt. Look closely at your most financially sound college options first.
- “Factor in family ties & extracurriculars.” Remember that this is your life, not anyone else’s. You want to make sure schools have all of your must-haves, whether that’s sports, Greek life, community service, etc. Find your likes and find them at your schools.
- “Find your major.” Prospective students should evaluate whether the campus culture supports their academic interests. Be sure, when you tour your college campuses, to tour your perspective academic departments and get a feel for the staff, courses and student enthusiasm or lack thereof.
- “Consider credentials.” Keep in mind accreditations. You want to get the best return on your investment and thrive in your major without any hiccups.
- “Go with your gut.” You’re getting bombarded with different schools’ student/staff callers/emailers regarding why their school is the one you should attend. Simple, go with what FEELS right.
- “Do some soul searching.” You need to really understand yourself – what you like to do, what you are passionate about. Take some time to reflect on your high points in life.
- “Have fun with it.” It doesn’t matter where you go; your experience is what you make it. You have to choose to be happy wherever you go, so have fun with the process.
- “Remember: no decision is truly final.” If you aren’t happy, your decision is not set in stone. When you’re under a lot of stress, often times you are not going to make the most well-informed decision. Relax and know you can transfer if you decide you made the wrong decision.
Remember your deadlines: The date to accept your decision will almost always fall on May 1st. Take your time with making your decision but remember to submit by this deadline to guarantee your place. Paying your enrollment fee will guarantee your spot at the college. If you do not pay your enrollment fee by then, it will be much more difficult to secure your spot. After May 1st, schools will begin looking at their wait-list to accept students meaning their spots will begin filling up immediately. Making sure you stay on top of deadlines will serve you extremely well in college and beyond!
Accept only one decision: This is critical as you can only enroll into one college or university, so make sure that this is truly the place you want to be. While you may be tempted to pay multiple deposits if you are not 100% certain on the school you want to attend, remember that these enrollment deposits are NONREFUNDABLE.
Paying the Deposit: As enrollment fees can be as high as $300, remember that with most institutions, the enrollment deposit will be added towards your tuition. So when your parents are reluctant to pay the fee, which is completely understandable, this may ease their minds. Also, do not be afraid to be honest with the financial aid offices if paying the deposit would be a huge barrier. Colleges may be more willing to work with you, if you reach out to them early, to find a way to get the enrollment fee taken care off. Some places may be willing to waive it, and others may be willing to allow you do set up a payment plan. Regardless, DO NOT WAIT UNTIL MAY 1ST TO TELL THEM YOU CANNOT PAY IT. The later you wait, the harder it will be for them to help you and some may tell you it is too late.
So CONGRATULATIONS on making it this far! But remember you are not done yet! Make sure your housing situation is figured out or in the process and you have registered for orientation. While May 1st is an important day, do not assume it is the finish-line, but more of a checkpoint. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your college adviser for help even now! So start making those visits, remember your deadlines, and accept and pay that enrollment deposit to save your spot at the school!