College decision month: how to choose THE college?

With May 1st — aka National College Decision Day — just a few hours away, what happens if the high school senior can’t decide which college is the one?

Toonie_bear

Canadian Toonie

In other words, what if the senior is in the same place as Mod Squad Pete… very fortunate to have options and torn between the choices?

Purvi S. Mody, wrote for Student Advisor’s blog,  accepting more than one college is not a good idea.

…you should only submit a deposit and an Intent to Register to one university. The Intent to Register is a contract that your daughter (and you) are signing with one college that she will attend in the Fall. She obviously cannot promise two colleges that she will attend. The May 1st deadline allows students ample time to research their college thoroughly. Chances are that a couple of additional weeks will not make the decision making process any easier.

Katy Hopkins, writing for USNews Education, offered 10 Steps to Picking the Right School. Here are a couple of her suggestions:

Rank your priorities: Make an extended list of pros and cons of college life, from school size to athletic programs, and numerically rank each in order of importance to you, recommends clinical psychologist Jerry Weichman. What factors do you rank as most critical—and which schools seem to excel in those areas?
Delve into departments: College rankings can be one tool in the decision process, but don’t forget that academic prestige can be examined on a smaller scale, too. Research the departments you’d be studying in, says Roth. Is one school better known for your major? Are faculty actively engaged at school and in the field?

Julie and Lindsey Mayfield, the mother and daughter team who blog under Twice the College Advice for US News Education, wrote 6 questions to ask when making a final college decision. Here are a couple of those questions:

What does our high school counselor recommend? The last time your child spoke to the high school counselor may have been much earlier in the decision process. Now that decision time is near and the college choices have been narrowed down, a high school counselor may have some new observations or questions to ask that will help with the decision.

What do those close to me think?Avoid asking for too many opinions. Letting everyone get his or her two cents in about your college choice can confuse much more than it clarifies. Have your college conversations with a small group of close connections, such as your parents and college counselor.

Don’t let everyone’s opinions about your top schools sway your opinion. In the end, your school should be a good fit for you, not your friends.

Ralph Becker, of Ivy College Prep, wrote for Gazettes.com, What to ask before accepting a college admissions offer. His entire column is worth reading, and here are a couple of clips:

What access do students have to required classes? Access to an impacted courses (this means the number of students applying for spots exceeds those available) might be quite limited. If a college’s four-year graduation rate is below 50%, access to key courses might be the problem. You can find graduation rates on College Navigator. A recent sample of various college four-year graduation rates includes: Cal Poly Pomona, 9%; UCLA, 66%; and Harvard University 88%.

How many courses are taught by teaching assistants or graduate students? If you’re attending a major research university, there is a strong chance you’ll be taking courses taught by graduate students. If, on the other hand, you’re heading to a liberal arts college, such as Grinnell or Amherst, you’re going to be taught by faculty.

Lynn O’Shaughnessy writes at College Solutions and for CBS Money Watch. Here are her 10 Ways to Pick a College. See more details on each via the link.

  1. Review the finances.
  2. Check student opinions.
  3. Ask students questions.
  4. Know the difference between a College and a University.
  5. Check a school’s graduation rates.
  6. Research how happy are the freshman.
  7. Check RateMyProfessors ratings.
  8. Know the graduation requirements.
  9. Discover how the school treats AP credits.
  10. Inquire about a Greek presence.

Finally, Cara Ray, on the Great College Advice blog from Montgomery Education Consulting, wrote

Toonie_Queen

Heads or tails?

Seniors, are you ready for May 1? After mentioning a few ways to make the decision, one involving a coin, she said:

My advice? It echoes that of our NACAC 2011 keynote speaker, Jonah Lehrer. Go with your gut.

Go with what your instinct tells you. You’ve visited the campuses, spent the time researching, read all of the brochures, gone on the website hundreds of times and now the time has come to take the next step. Listen to what your gut is telling you and ask yourself, “Will I be happy here?” Is the answer yes? Then sign your name on the dotted line and start getting excited for this new adventure you are about to embark on!

Pete has used a number of these suggestions. After spending much of a cold, rainy Saturday at a track meet, he waded through graduation requirements for the two colleges on his final short list.

Turns out that could be a factor for more highly-motivated AP exam prep. Who knew?

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “College decision month: how to choose THE college?

  1. Jen

    I can’t wait to hear what MSP decides! Good luck in the next couple of days.

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