Sorting Through Acceptance Letters: Which to Choose?

It may seem like having a few acceptance letters to choose from would be a great problem to have in the spring of your senior year. While it is an honor and an exciting time, it can also be stressful to make the final decision, especially when faced with several excellent choices. It is important to put in the time to make the best decision possible and end up at the perfect college for you next year.

Refer Back
Be sure to hold onto the brochures and materials you collected during interviews and campus visits. These things, along with any notes you made at the time, can help to jog your memory and make the decision a little easier. Think about how you felt on each campus, which ones stand out and which made you feel at home from the beginning?

Additional Research
If you come up with additional questions or feel like you still need more information, don’t be afraid to contact the admissions office or to follow up with contacts you made on campus. These people can help you to feel confident about your decision and ensure you choose the right school for next year.

Practical Considerations
For many students, cost is an important factor in making your decision. If you are being offered a particularly generous financial aid package or scholarships from one of your top school — it may help to bump it ahead of the competition. Similarly, an acceptance from a good state school with a great deal for students in the state can be tough to pass up if cost is a big component of your choice. Similarly, you may want to consider other practical matters, like the location of the school and how far from home you would be while attending college.

Talk it Over
It can sometimes be helpful to talk through your options with a parent, teacher, or guidance counselor as you make your final decision about college. Just the simple act of talking about your schools with someone else may help the top school to become clear. A guidance counselor may also be able to help you to narrow your options and a parent may have insights from going along on the process with you.

When one school ends up the clear front runner, it’s time to send in your acceptance, announce it to your family and friends, and celebrate the end of your college search process.

College visits: What to look for

Visiting a college campus is a critical step in the application process. While background information can be gathered from brochures and websites, there are many things that you can only learn by visiting the school and interacting with students and staff. If possible, try to plan the visit for a time when classes are in session. This will give you a better window into life on campus. There are several important things to consider during these campus visits.

Size
Some students will prefer to be at a large university while others may want a smaller campus. This is often a personal preference and something that will have a large impact on your college experience. A small school can offer a tight-knit feeling of community, while a larger school may offer a wider variety of classes and extracurricular activities.

Location
It is important to choose a school that is in a place you want to live for a few years. There are colleges in the heart of large cities, in rural small towns, and everything in between. It is important to find out about the relationship the college has with the surrounding city or town, whether students are actively involved in the community or tend to stay within the campus. The location of a college will also impact how students spend their free time. Ask if the majority of students stay on campus over the weekends and what options are available for entertainment and activities.

Requirements
The college’s admissions materials will often print the average high school GPA and SAT scores for incoming students. If the numbers aren’t readily available in printed materials, it’s a good idea to ask. Knowing this can help you to prepare through SAT test prep and maintaining a good GPA. It is also important to find out about course requirements on campus. Many schools will require a core curriculum of classes in various subjects, but the number of options available to fulfill these requirements will vary.

Housing
One highlight of the college visit is often seeing the inside of a dorm room. This is a good time to ask whether housing is guaranteed all four years and what options, such as single rooms, suites, and apartments, are available to students.

Majors
If you already know what you plan to major in during college, you will want to learn as much as you can about that specific department. A campus visit will often allow you to sit in on a class or meet with a professor to get a better sense of the school’s program. If you are unsure about your major, look for a school with plenty of options that interest you. Some schools are better choices for students interested in a double major or pursuing a specific minor or concentration in addition to their major. It is a good idea to ask how many students do this and how well this course load would fit into an academic plan.


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