You’ve worked hard in your high school classes, taken standardized tests, submitted college applications, and it all paid off! You’ve been admitted to college—in fact, you’ve been admitted to several colleges. But now you face a new challenge: how do you choose? Which school is the best fit for you?
COLLEGE SELECTION: MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICE FOR YOU
Below, we’ve laid out a number of factors to consider and ways to explore your options to help you make the right choice.
Visit: When it comes to college, you’re picking not just the place you will study and grow as a student, but also where you’ll live for the next four years. With that in mind, you’ll want to select a school where you feel comfortable and where you can find a community that suits you. How will you know which school that is? By visiting!
Visits have been difficult this year, but schools are working hard to give admitted students a sense of the college experiences they offer. Some colleges—including Tulane and Colgate—are now allowing admitted students to attend in-person tours and information sessions. Others have put together virtual programs and events to introduce admitted students to campus offerings. Take advantage of all available opportunities to explore your potential colleges. You might be surprised by which schools end up feeling like the best fit for you.
Talk to Students & Faculty: One of the best ways to learn about an institution is to talk to the people who are already part of it. Almost all colleges will provide opportunities for you to speak with currently enrolled students and faculty members. Dartmouth, for example, offers faculty presentations and “Pine Pods” to help introduce students to the community, while UVA’s Days on the Lawn gives admitted students an opportunity to chat with current undergrads. You might also reach out to friends and family members who have attended your schools of interest to see if they can give you any insights. Your school guidance counselor might be able to put you in touch with former students who have enrolled at particular colleges within the past few years.
If you want to get a better sense of the academic opportunities at a school, you might also reach out to faculty members to learn a bit more about their department or to request the opportunity to sit in on a class. While not every faculty member will be able to assist you, some might have a few minutes to answer your questions, which will give you a better sense of the department you might be joining.
Review Academic Programs: You applied to schools with academic opportunities that interest you, but now’s the time to explore them in depth. Which school has the most robust programs in your area of interest? Does it offer classes on your ideal subjects? Does it help students gain internships and get involved with local community projects? How easy does the school make it to study abroad within your major?
If you have multiple interests or think your focus might change during college, you’ll also want to pay attention to opportunities for double majoring and minoring. If you’re thinking of transferring to another school within a university (e.g., from the College of Arts and Sciences to the College of Engineering), how easy is it to accomplish that? Perhaps you’ve been admitted to a school that’s part of a 3-2 Engineering Program. Contact the program supervisor and ask for more specific details on how to qualify.
We realize that reviewing the details is hardly the most exciting part of the college acceptance process, but doing that work now ensures that you’ll end up at a place with the resources to support your interests.
Consider the Costs: No matter how you cut it, college is expensive. For this reason, you’ll want to consider the price tag of each institution carefully. How much is the annual tuition? How much will your living expenses be? If some schools are offering you scholarships or better financial aid packages, make sure you take that into account when reviewing offers. You can adjust your financial aid package during the coming years if your situation changes, but you don’t want to count on that when deciding among several offers.
YOU’VE EARNED IT
Once you’ve had a chance to explore a college and its programs, to chat with those who already attend it, and to think pragmatically about costs, we hope you’ll feel more comfortable choosing one school over the others. After that, you get to enjoy the end of senior year and a relaxing, SAT-free summer. You did it!