How to Decide Which College to Attend Before May 1
Congratulations, you’ve been accepted into college! In fact, you may have been accepted into more than one. That’s great! You now have to decide which college to attend before May 1. Picking the right school is an important decision for students because it can impact you for the rest of your life. However, choosing which school you want to go to doesn’t have to be stressful. Here are some tips on how to decide which college or university to attend before the May 1 deadline.
Now that you’ve been accepted into college, the first thing you should do is smile! It is normal to be scared of making the wrong decision, but the bottom line is that you are officially going to college! Getting accepted into a top university is no easy task, and getting accepted into more than one is extremely impressive. You should be proud of yourself! Take some time to celebrate your accomplishments with friends and family. Now that you have been accepted, you have the freedom to decide which school you want to attend. This is a luxury that not every student has, so make sure you enjoy the process!
Use the rankings wisely
The U.S. News & World Report Rankings of Top National Universities can be a useful tool in guiding your decision, but it is important to use these rankings correctly. It might be tempting to simply pick the highest ranked school that you get into, but students should resist the urge to attend a school solely on prestige. U.S. News & World Report uses a variety of metrics and calculations to rank each college, but these amount to a general comparison, not a universal, end-all-be-all statement. The rankings can serve as a general guideline, but oftentimes a school that is ranked lower may be a better fit for you than a school that is ranked higher. It is important to consider a variety of factors when deciding which university or college to attend.
Consider the financials
Let’s face it: college is very expensive, and some colleges are more expensive than others. The cost of college is an important factor that you should weigh heavily. When deciding between schools, you need to think about your family’s ability to pay. Does one school charge less tuition than the others? Does one school offer better financial aid than the others? Did any schools offer you a scholarship?
Another factor to consider is whether or not you want to pursue postgraduate education after you earn your undergraduate degree. You may not know right now, and that’s OK – after all, you haven’t even gone to college yet – but it is something you should think about. If you want to attend graduate school, medical school, or law school, you will have to pay for several more years of education after college. In this case, it might be wise to select a less expensive school for your undergraduate education.
(Related – check out our Resources for Paying for School)
Everybody’s financial situation is different, so it is important to talk to your family about how big a role money should play in determining which college you should attend.
Visit each school
If you have the ability to visit each school, taking a campus tour can be a great way to get a feel for what life there is like. Your college campus will be your new home for the next 4 years, so you should pick somewhere that you can see yourself fitting in. Take the time to eat in the dining halls, walk around the campus, and sit in on a few classes. Some schools even offer special Admitted Students Days and overnight visits that will allow you to stay in the dorms and meet professors.
If you are unable to visit in person, there are still plenty of great ways to get a better feel for each school. Some colleges offer virtual campus tours, and many have Facebook groups for admitted students. Joining these groups will allow you to meet and network with other students who may already attend those schools. This can be a great way to ask questions and gauge the student body culture.
Research the academics
Each college has its own academic offerings, and it is important to consider what you want. Some schools offer a wide variety of academic programs, while other schools are highly specialized in specific fields. If you do not yet know what you want to major in, a liberal arts college that offers a lot of degree options, such as Castleton University, may be right for you. If you already know what you want to study, a school with a strong specialization program, such as Milwaukee School of Engineering, may be a better fit.
A helpful practice is to research which majors a school offers. Then, look up which course are offered in that major. Do these courses sound interesting? Would you be excited to take them? If you can’t get excited about the classes a college has, perhaps that college isn’t the best fit for you.
Ask for help
If you are still having trouble deciding which college to attend before the March 1 deadline, it is OK to ask for help. U.S. News Global Education is partnered with some of the world’s best education counselors who can work with you 1-on-1 to help you make your decision. Click here to find an education counselor to help you determine the best fit.