Making a Decision About College Acceptances

If you were lucky enough to receive acceptances from more than one of the colleges that you applied to, you are in the enviable position of deciding among competing offers. While this can potentially feel overwhelming, there is a rational way of making a choice.

On a sheet of paper list the pros, cons, and open questions you have for each school offering you a spot. These should relate to the factors that were important to you as you identified your colleges of interest. Overall school reputation, strength in your major, availability of programs you would like to participate in (such as study abroad, internships, etc.), campus culture, and cost might be among some of the factors you rank at this point.

If you feel you don’t have adequate information consider making use of good guidebooks and other sources, such as the Fiske Guide to Colleges for a print resource, or the website Unigo, for extensive student reviews of their own institutions:

Don’t overlook the subject of cost, as decisions you make about the amount and more importantly, the composition of your aid packages are critical in this day of soaring student loan debt. Look to see who gave you the most money, but also look to see who gave you the greatest about of gift aid (free money) from your college acceptances, which is aid in the form of grants and scholarships. In particular seek to minimize your amount of aid in the form of loans, a type of self-help aid. If your aid letter doesn’t make this clear, feel free to call the financial aid office at the school and ask about the terms of your awards, whether they will continue in subsequent years, and any requirements you must meet to continue to receive that award.

If you were disappointed with your outcomes and acceptances, consider either the possibility of a Gap Year, a period off between high school graduation and starting college where you pursue a program that will further season and develop you. Also consider attending at a community college (which can save a lot of money!), and applying later to your dream college as a transfer student.

Topics contained in this post are explored in much greater depth in my book Get In! The High-Success, Low-Stress Guide to College Planning, available shortly from Tattered Cover Bookstores in Denver and Highlands Ranch, and from Tattered Cover online:


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