It’s the spring of their senior year, when many students receive decisions from the colleges they’ve applied to. Some are acceptances that bring delight, some rejections that can be hard. But in the end, you can only attend one college, so it’s a time to choose. Here are some tips on making the decision wisely.
Research Majors, Careers, and Earning Potential
If you created your college list carefully, you already know why you applied to each college that accepted you. Still, it’s essential to research the college and your potential career again, even if you already did so.
Some valuable resources for your research:
- The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook discusses potential salaries and outlooks by career.
- The U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard has information about college graduation rates and earnings by college and major.
- Payscale has data on salaries by college and major.
- Georgetown University’s Center for Education and the Workforce tracks the return on investment (ROI) of a degree from 4,500 U.S. higher education institutions.
Visit Colleges or Attend Accepted Student Events
These resources will help you think about potential careers and majors, but it’s also essential to understand the culture of the colleges you might attend. Most colleges have events – in-person or virtual – for accepted students, so sign up for them. If you can, go to colleges in person since you’ll get a genuine feel for the campuses that way. Take the time to ask questions. You should ask about:
- Food: Does the college have food options that work for you? The question is critical if you have allergies or dietary restrictions, but even if you don’t, it’s helpful to know whether you’ll be able to enjoy the food you eat every day.
- Housing: Is housing on campus scarce? Do they have options that work for you?
- Community: Does the college have people you’d connect with? You can ask about clubs you might be interested in or events you’d like to participate in.
- Educational and Work Opportunities: Can you sign up for research as an undergraduate? Build relationships with professors? Find internships? If you’re applying for advising tracks like pre-med or pre-law, how does the college help students applying to medical or legal programs? These kinds of questions can help you narrow your choices.
Look Into the Cost
Before deciding where you’ll go to college, make sure you have your financial aid offers. If you haven’t already filled out the FAFSA or CSS/Profile, do that now. And once you have your financial aid offers, read them carefully and use our template to create a precise apples-to-apples comparison.
Make Your Decision
Once you’ve done the research, visited colleges, and analyzed costs, you should narrow it down to two or three choices and discuss them with parents, coaches, or advisors. It may not be easy, but sleeping on the decision is often a good idea. Your brain processes most information subconsciously, so you might arrive at your best choice while you sleep.
Try not to fret about the places that didn’t accept you. This is a significant choice, and there are many excellent colleges out there, so approach the process as the first step in a journey to adulthood, and you’ll do fine!