Decision letters have arrived. You now have until May 1 to decide what college you will be attending in the fall. But, how do you make the hard decision of choosing the college that is the best school for you? Here are some tips to keep in mind.
- If you haven’t visited the colleges you are leaning towards, visit as soon as possible. You don’t want to base your decision on the pretty pictures that you see in the marketing publications and the university website. You also don’t want to base your decision on what others tell you about the school. You need to experience the campus yourself to see if it feels right.
- Even if you have visited, it might be good to visit the schools you are leaning toward again. This time while you’re on campus, think about how you feel while you are there. Do you feel comfortable and excited about being there? Listen to your gut on this. Take advantage of the Admitted Student Events – you just might meet your future roommate and classmates.
- Review all of the financial aid letters. What offer or offers are the best and is the amount you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket doable for you and your family?
- If you haven’t received the financial aid offer from one or more of the colleges, it should arrive by mid-April. Review your correspondence from the schools to determine when you can expect the offer. If there is no mention as to when to expect your financial aid offer, contact the Financial Aid Office. They can let you know when to expect it and/or if they need other documents before providing the offer to you.
- Compare all of the financial aid offers. Just because the financial aid amount is more at one school than another doesn’t mean it is the best offer. Find the Cost of Attendance at each school. Cost of Attendance includes tuition, fees, and room and board. Subtract the amount of scholarships and grants (free money you do not have to pay back) from the Cost of Attendance. This amount is the total out-of-pocket you and your family will have to pay. After that, consider the loans you were offered.
- Talk to the people you trust about the decisions. Parents, grandparents, siblings, college counselor, friends, etc. Talk about the pros and cons on your list for the colleges you are considering. Hearing a different point of view can make things a little clearer.
- Once you’ve decided, pay that enrollment deposit. It needs to be in by May 1 to save your spot. While you’re at it, pay the housing deposit as well to save your spot in the residence halls.
- Don’t’ send multiple enrollment deposits to different schools. It is unethical, frowned upon by colleges and could result in the college rescinding your acceptance.
- Let the colleges you won’t be attending know. I know that it can feel like breaking up with someone, but it’s better that they know.
- As a former college admissions counselor and director, I can tell you that it won’t hurt the admissions counselor’s feelings. They would rather know. Plus, depending on the college, they will keep trying to contact you until they hear from you. Avoid the awkward phone call and let them know as soon as you know. Colleges make it easy by allowing you to inform them online or by mailing in a response form.
- When you decline an offer at a college, they might open up your spot to someone on the waiting list. Help someone out by letting the school know as soon as you know.
- Enjoy your summer. There will be more housekeeping items during the summer, but you can relax for a bit ☺
Above photo credit: Acceptance Letter Envelope" by slgckgc is licensed under CC BY 2.0