You've been admitted to several great colleges and now it's decision time! Here's advice from members of the Higher Education Consultants Association on how to decide which college to attend:
Deciding where to attend college can feel monumental. Good decisions are based on both head and heart, so check in with each before signing on the dotted line. Think back to the beginning of your search. What were you looking for in a college? Consider how well each of your options meets your "shopping list" of college characteristics. This is the "head" part. Now, look into your heart. Imagine yourself at each school. Which option feels most right? If you balance "shoulds" with "wants" your decision will be a good one! Julia Surtshin, Independent College Counselor, Portland, Oregon
It's easy to look at college rankings to determine which is the 'best" school you got into, but finding the right fit is critical. You need to feel comfortable in your surroundings. Try not to over-think it. What is important to you: class size, demographics, location, even quality of food and Greek life may rank as highly important on your personal list. It sounds so simple, but a gut instinct is often the best choice because you know your own comfort level best...trust it! Jill Madenberg, Independent Educational Consultant, Lake Success, New York
Even if you visited colleges before applying, it's worth another visit before making your final decision. You see a school differently after you've been admitted. It's more real. You notice different things as you walk across the campus and think about whether this is where you want to be next year. The question is whether to attend a college's special program for admitted students or go on a regular school day. The special program can be fun, and you get to meet prospective classmates, and learn about programs and clubs. The advantage of going on a regular school day is you get to see what it would be like to be a student at the school, especially if you can arrange to sit in on classes, and stay overnight in a dorm. Audrey Kahane, Educational Consultant, West Hills, California
Try to visit or re-visit your top two to four schools. Remember, you've changed a lot in the past year. Think about: How do I feel on this campus? Are these kids I'd want to be my friends? Do students make eye contact? Do they smile at each other? Do they greet each other as they pass, even though they may not know everyone? Or, do I want more anonymity? Remember, this decision is not totally objective. Your emotions are involved - and should be - because how you feel in a place where you'll spend four important years is crucial! Judith P. Mackenzie, Mackenzie College Consulting, Seattle, Washington
If you've been admitted to several colleges you really like and can't decide which one to choose, know that there is no right choice. You can be happy at any of them. Once you make your decision, you will invest emotionally in that school, and it becomes the right choice. Audrey Kahane, Education Consultant, West Hills, California
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Photo credit: Carolee Gravina, used with permission.