College Application Decisions

Now that all high school seniors have handed in their applications, they have a short break to relax and use their college prep time for other pursuits. Of course, many seniors will be taking advanced placement tests in May but that is still relatively far away.

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Before jumping into the May test prep season, seniors should take some time to thoughtfully plan out where they might want to go to college (assuming they are accepted everywhere). Early Action and Early Decision students may know whether or not they’ve been accepted relatively soon but the majority of students have a couple of months to sit and ponder before any acceptances or rejections arrive in the mail.

Choosing Where to Apply

Although it often seems the second semester of senior year is relatively easy, deciding where to attend university is one of the biggest decisions they can make and it can potentially influence the rest of their life. Although students can change their minds later on and transfer to another school, the simplest path is to pick a four-year university and stick to it (READ: “Navigating the Basics of the College Application Process“). Hopefully, the majority of students out there applied to around 10 colleges. This is not a hard and fast number but it does provide for more choices. Some students, especially legacy students, will know exactly where they want to go to school. If they get into the University of First Choice, they know where they are going. However, many students need to contemplate what would be best for their future education and lifestyle.

Starting with ideals and adding in doses of reality later is often a good way to make a final decision. Ideally, students shouldn’t think about cost, housing, details, distance from home, or anything else that may cloud the mind. This thought may narrow the choice to about two to three colleges. Many students find that, although they mostly applied to one type of university, perhaps they would like to go to another type.

Students who are feeling overly confused about their decision, should consider a few important factors.

1. Students who are in anyway unsure of what they would like to study should make sure that they choose a university that accepts an ‘undecided’ major in the freshman year and boasts departments in almost every major field of study.

2. Students considering small liberal arts colleges should find out if that they can switch to a different major if possible. The majority of large public universities offer most majors and are often a safe choice.

Some students will not have as many choices as others but it is still important for them to think about what type of environment they would like to immerse themselves in. It’s a good idea at this point in the year for seniors to think about their target schools (READ: “8 Reasons Applicants Fail to Get Into the College of Their Choice“). The target schools are the five or so schools that students are likely to get into but are not a sure thing. Taking some time to think about which of these universities will make them most happy will allow students to make an easy decision later on.

Once acceptance letters arrive, there isn’t a large amount of time to make a decision so it’s a good idea to at least get a little farther in the thought process of choosing where to spend the next four years.

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