You’re almost there! You studied hard, took the tests, did the research, wrote the essays, and submitted the apps. And now you have a handful of acceptances to really great schools to show for it – well done!! But how do you choose between them?
It’s no surprise that choosing which college to enroll in is a difficult decision. You’ve spent the past year researching, visiting, and pouring your heart into applications for these schools. And in a way, you’ve had to really picture yourself attending each school, getting attached enough to inspire you to apply. But the reality is, you can only choose one.
This is without a doubt the toughest decision students have to make in the college admissions process, but don’t fret – there is a way forward! There are so many factors to consider, and each student and each family is different in which factors have the most weight.
One of the main factors we help students and families consider is, of course, the cost difference. College isn’t cheap, so money does typically hold a good amount of weight in the decision process. Comparing the total cost of tuition, room and board, fees, and additional expenses for each school with all of the different scholarships and financial aid awards offered is a great way to get a better grasp on which school makes the most sense to attend financially. As a student services consultant, this is actually something I personally do for the families I work with so that they don’t have to worry about researching costs, keeping track of the countless award letters, or crunching numbers.
Of course, money certainly isn’t everything. Even though you likely spent a good amount of time researching colleges when you first made your college list, it’s never a bad idea to use the research tools we recommend and dig a bit deeper to see everything that each school you’re deciding between has to offer. If you know your options all have a great program for your major, you love the campuses, the costs are similar, and you can genuinely see yourself attending each of them, find the “extras” that each college offers. For example, are there certain clubs/organizations that only one school partners with? Does one have a nicer rec center? Do you enjoy the location and environment better at one? Does one hold particular events you’re really excited about? Or do they offer better study abroad experiences? These are the types of questions that you can start to consider when weighing the pros and cons for really great schools that are similar in price point and program quality.
I also encourage students to set up college visits if they haven’t already been to each campus and attend admitted students events. Or even connecting with current professors or students to learn about their personal experience at the school, asking what their favorite and least favorite aspects of the school are, and getting a better feel of the college culture.
There is a lot to consider in choosing where you’ll spend the next four years of your life. That’s why we work with our students all the way through their final decision – it is a big decision and you shouldn’t have to make it alone!
Until Next Time,
Megan Bugarin, Student Services Consultant