You’ve been accepted to multiple colleges! Congratulations! That’s a huge achievement, and you should be very proud of yourself. However, you now have to make one of the biggest decisions in your life so far – which school to choose? Granted, it’s a good problem to have, but it can still be overwhelming.
Don’t worry though, it’s going to be ok. Here are a few important factors to look at before you make the big jump:
What are your top priorities for your day-to-day college experience?
What is most important to you about this experience? Are small class-sizes important? Consider the size of the school as a whole – do you want to recognize most of the people you see walking through campus, or are you more comfortable in a crowd? How important is Greek life to you? A good sports team? What about the quality of the dorms, or the aesthetics of the campus as a whole? How far away do you want (or need) to be from your family? Remember you’re not just moving to a school – you’re also moving to a real place. So do you want to spend the next four years in a city? In a small town?
Be sure to thoroughly dig through the schools’ websites to glean as much information as possible, and if you haven’t already visited – now’s the time.
What can you and your family realistically afford?
College is expensive – there’s no way around it. You need to think, not only about the next four years, but about the next 15 or 20 years as well. Debt is real, and it can significantly affect your life for many years after graduation. Remember, in many cases, the education, experience, and opportunities you’ll end up receiving at a more reasonably-priced school is indistinguishable in quality with a name-brand institution – for a MUCH better deal. Take the time to make sure you’re not making a decision based on prestige alone.
However. If your heart is set on a particular school, but they came up short on the financial package – don’t despair! It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to settle. Try contacting the admissions office to see whether a better option is available, and be persistent. If you’ve gotten better offers from other schools, be sure to mention it! Remember, at this moment it is YOU who has the leverage, not the school. You’re about to give them a lot of money – make ‘em work for it!
Compare college degree programs
There are many different types of degrees and programs, and depending on your goals, they are not all created equal. For instance, if you want to go to graduate school, what kind of degree do you need to get in undergrad? Are there specific courses you absolutely cannot do without? Do you want a rigid path laid out for you, or do you want more flexibility in your schedule? Every program is set up differently – do your research.
Do as much research as you can, and then trust your instincts. You’re not going to be able to predict perfectly what will be the best fit, and there are good and bad aspects of every school. At some point, you just have to trust yourself and take the jump. More than likely, it’ll be fine. Good luck!