May 1st is National Decision Day which means the pressure is on for high school seniors to make their final college decisions. All (or most) acceptance letters have been received and now it’s time to make that final decision.
In March 2019 the “College Admissions Scam” was the news of the month. A slew of wealthy parents was indicted on fraud charges for paying large sums of money to falsify college admissions documents and get their children into elite universities.
These parents included celebrities, attorneys, and CEOs spending as much as $6.5 Million for a single child. Over 800 families were involved in 10-plus years. For every student that got in under false pretenses, there was a student, a worthwhile student, who did not get in.
Why does this happen?
There is a lot of stress and pressure placed on both students and parents in getting into college. As a life coach and a parent, this scam angers me, but it is an exception to the typical choices applicants and their parents make.
So, while I’m compelled to mention the scam and its implications. Let’s move on to more exciting choices…yours.
The Way it Really Works
For those who are seniors in high school with hopes of going onto college right after high school, congratulations! By April, you should be receiving all or most of your acceptance letters.
Your biggest decision NOW is making the final choice.
As each college acceptance graces your mailbox, compare it against the ones you have already received. Prioritize them, or at least identify which are the top two choices to-date.
By the time you’ve heard back from all of your applications, you should have a pretty good idea of the top two selections. Making it an either/or decision can alleviate a lot of the anxiety around your final choice.
5 Ways to Choose
Are you still struggling with the decision? Remember, it’s not all about facts and figures; weighing your thoughts and feelings can help you decide your educational future.
Here are some exercises that can take some of the guesswork out of making your choice.
1. Review Original Selection Criteria
Review the options you considered when selecting these colleges in the first place.
- Are you still interested in the majors provided by each school?
- Are your second options for a major available?
- How do you feel about where the school’s located? What is the weather like? How far is it from home? Is it in a big city? Is it safe place?
- How do you feel about the size of the campus and the student body?
- What other criteria did you use in selecting these two schools in the first place? Write these criteria down side-by-side so you can see where each choice lands.
2. Weigh Financial Options
Attending college is a financial investment. Most every student receives some kind of school loan. How much does an education cost?
With a database of around 4,000 schools, The College Board indicates the average 2018-2019 annual school year published tuition and fees prices ranges from $17,490 to $39,400. (This is based on out-of-state tuitions for public, four-year institutions.)
You may have also received financial aid offers. Analyze whether the school with the higher cost is worth it. Whoever is footing the bill, or making significant financial contributions, for you to attend college should be a part of this decision.
3. Get a Feel for the Campus
- Get a feel for campus life. If possible, take another campus tour.
- Reach out to others who have attended that school to see what they liked or didn’t like about it.
- Look the schools up on social media or the internet to see what other students say.
- Get a vibe of the school on an informational site like College Confidential.
- Check out what students say about the faculty on Rate My Professors.
4. Listen to Yourself
Talk through your options with a trusted family member, friend, or life coach. Touch on all of the points that matter most to you.
Don’t have someone you feel you can truly listen without inputting their own bias? Make a video of yourself talking through your options. Continue talking for 5 minutes, or as long as you can, about all the pros and cons for each college.
Once you have exhausted your monologue, play back the recording. Does it sound like you have already made up your mind and are just convincing yourself of the other option?
As a life coach, I listen not only to WHAT a client says in regards to their college choices, but HOW they say it. Often, they have already made the decision, but aren’t able to hear it in themselves.
Listen for themes, passions, and disinterests – much of which is non-verbal in the tone of your voice, your eye-movements, and posture. This is all about connecting your head and heart in making a decision that suits you.
5. Flip a Coin
It may sound silly, but it just might do the trick!
Set your mind to finally make that college decision solely on heads equaling College X and tails equaling College Y.
- First, notice your thoughts while the coin is in the air. What college are you rooting for?
- How do you feel about the college identified by the side of the coin landing face up?
- NOTE: This process will ONLY work if you truly set your mind to believing the decision will be made by chance. The power is in what you think and feel about the randomly chosen college.
Choosing a college is a big decision. Your life experiences for the next few years will be determined by where you go to college. Don’t rush into deciding too quickly. Assuming you applied to these colleges wisely, either college you attend should be a great match. You have come a long way in making your decision thus far.
The bottom line is you are concerned about picking the RIGHT COLLEGE. You may feel overwhelmed, and the choice seems as if your life depends on it. But don’t fool yourself into thinking you can make a WRONG choice, one where your life is over and all of your dreams will now go unfulfilled.
Instead, reframe your rhetoric. Make your choice and ask yourself, “How do I make the most out of the college I’ve chosen.”