There is a very popular universal expression that states: “Be careful what you ask for because you just might get it!” It is an expression that takes on powerful significance at the end of March every year as top colleges announce their acceptances to students around the country and around the world who are sitting anxiously in front of their computer screens or smart phones, incessantly searching their email or entering URLs of their top choice colleges. Virtually all students receive at least some rejections, but a vast majority of students receive multiple acceptances. Sometimes, these acceptances are largely weighted toward safety schools or target schools. But in some “lucky” cases (in which luck actually has little or nothing to do with it), students receive multiple acceptances from multiple “top choice” colleges.
Imagine, if you will, the pure joy of winning the lottery once, and then winning again, and again, and again. The first time you feel pure exhilaration. In subsequent victories, you begin to feel overwhelmed with responsibility. In the case of college acceptances, making the right choice has dramatic implications. Not only is this where you are likely to be spending the next four years of your life, it is also where you will be bridging the important gap between adolescence and adulthood. It is when you will become who you will be for the rest of your life, as opposed to who you were when you were growing up. Choosing the right college is not always an easy task. There are so many factors to consider, each more important than the last.
Each one of these factors, and perhaps 100 more, is both profoundly important and highly appropriate. Clearly, there is no one factor that should dominate your decision. Further, it makes no sense to produce a list of priorities in advance of receiving your notifications, because that list will become totally useless once your emotions take hold upon seeing the actual list of possible choices. For example, you wanted to go to a small school, but you were accepted at NYU. Or, you wanted to go to a city school, but you are accepted at Cornell. Perhaps you wanted to be on the East Coast but you were accepted at Pomona. The truth is that the only list of priorities that matters is the one you form after you have already received your acceptances.
So, to help you make one of the most important decisions of your life – the decision of where you will go to college – I offer this list of five steps to help you decide.
Step One: Consider the importance of a financial aid package to your family. College is very expensive and difficult for many families to afford. So, you may be forced to compare the relative value of a financial aid package to any sense of disappointment you might feel in not attending a school that you wanted to attend more.
Step Two: Visit each college that you are seriously considering. The last thing you want to do is commit to spending the next four years at a place you have never seen. When you visit, take a tour and consider how being on the campus makes you feel. Do you really envision attending school here? Do you feel happy being here?
Step Three: Discuss the decision with your college counselor. Most likely, he or she can provide you with insights that may make your decision easier or more meaningful. Always consult with those who have more knowledge than you to help you make such an important decision. Consider his or her opinion in making your decision, though be sure that the decision is ultimately yours.
Step Four: Consider the strength of each college with respect to the major or department you are most likely to choose. Perhaps you were accepted by a great college, but that college does not have a strong engineering, English, or math department. Since your career choice will likely be based on your major (at lease to a certain extent), earning a degree from a college known for that particular major can be helpful in achieving a rewarding career. However, keep in mind that approximately 60% of all students change their mind about their major during their college career.
Step Five: Use the following sentence to determine your visceral reaction to each college:
“I go to (name of College or University).” For example:
“I go to MIT.”
“I go to Smith.”
“I go to Dartmouth.”
“I go to Michigan.”
“I go to Harvard.”
Plug in the name of each college to which you were accepted. Consider choosing the college contained in the sentence that makes you happiest and proudest. Make no mistake, your happiness is of paramount importance in the college selection process.
NC Global Education