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College Admissions

Archive for April, 2015

Making Your Final Decision

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

So many students worry about getting accepted to college, but in recent weeks I have talked to seniors facing a different problem. They have 10 or more offers of admission. It may be a good problem to have, but choosing a college when you have so many options can feel overwhelming.

This is the time to visit the colleges, even if you’ve seen them before. The schools can look different now that you’ve been admitted and the prospect of spending four years on a campus is real.

Programs for admitted students can be exciting, and you will meet other prospective freshmen. But these events are designed to persuade admitted students to enroll, and it can be more helpful to visit on a typical day. Ask to sit in on at least one class in your major as well as another class in a different subject. If you don’t know your major, choose something that sounds interesting. If you visit the same class at each college, such as introductory psychology, you will be able to compare the class sizes and student/professor interactions and class discussions at the different schools. This is especially important if you are considering large universities and small liberal arts colleges, as the classroom experiences will be different.

Try to meet students in your major. Ask what they like and don’t like about the program, how helpful their professors are, what kind of internship and research experiences they have had, and if they are seniors, what are their post-graduation plans.

Spending the night in a residence hall can help you get a sense of life outside the classroom. If you can’t do an overnight, make sure to eat in the dining hall and talk to as many students as possible. Ask friends and relatives to put you in touch with current students at the college.

College is a major investment of time and money. You need information about outcomes. Ask about graduation rates. Visit the career services office and ask how they help students get internships and jobs. How do they utilize their alumni network? What companies recruit on campus?

If you are an aspiring pre-med student, schedule a meeting with the pre-health advisor at each college. Ask about the school’s track record with medical school applications as well as how advisers support students in preparing for and applying to medical school. It can be tricky to compare medical school admission rates because some colleges only support and count the applications of students who have a high GPA, resulting in what looks like a higher success rate than colleges which count all students who apply to medical school.

Students who plan to go to any graduate or professional school need to think about where they will be able to earn excellent grades and establish relationships with professors who will write strong letters of recommendation. Whether you plan to go directly to a job or to graduate school, choosing a college where you believe you will be academically successful and feel good about yourself in the college community will help you reach your goals.

If you can’t visit campus, do your research online. Read course descriptions and make sure there are enough classes that interest you. Check general education requirements as well as requirements for your major. Go the department website and find out if any professors are doing research that sounds fascinating. Ask the department chair about research and internship opportunities as well as where recent graduates in that major have gone after graduation. Investigate student organizations that sound interesting and email members for more information. Start reading the school paper online to learn about activities on campus as well as the political and social atmosphere.

If you applied to colleges that are good fits, any decision you make will be the right one. Sometimes it comes down to cost. A generous merit scholarship from a third choice college can be compelling. You will probably love it just as much as your first choice school, maybe even more.

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