As one of the rites of spring, high school seniors everywhere are in the process of making a college decision. As the May 1 deadline draws ever closer, a different approach may be necessary to make the final decision.
[Find out how to make a college decision as a family.]
Asking these six questions may help you to choose a college:
1. How will outside scholarships be treated? Sometimes, students work hard to secure outside scholarships, only to find that any that they obtain will reduce the amount of aid they're receiving from the school. If your child has applied for—or possibly already received—outside scholarships, this could be a deciding factor for your family.
[Find out other ways to pay for college.]
2. 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.
[Ask your counselor these four questions.]
3. How does a second campus visit compare? If feasible, schedule additional campus visits at your child's top two choices. Now that you are almost to the point of making a decision, the way you view a school will be different than it was when you were just shopping. In addition, you'll likely meet different people, have a different tour guide, and so forth. That will give you new perspectives as well.
[Use eight tips to use a campus visit to make a final decision.]
If an actual visit isn't possible for time or financial reasons, take advantage of the features colleges offer on their websites today, like virtual tours.
[Come along for a virtual ride on the U.S. News college road trips.]
1. What are the pros and cons of each college? You may love the athletic atmosphere at one school, but does it really stack up against the good academics, housing, and social life of another school? Make sure your decision is based on a well-rounded choice, and that you consider all aspects of college life, instead of just a "dream aspect" of one school.
[Find out more about ranking your college priorities.]
2. 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.
3. What feels like the total package? Go with your gut, but only to a point. In the end, hopefully you'll know where you belong. Don't follow your instincts without regard to cost, academics, or distance from home, however. Try to select a school that is the total package and has many aspects that you enjoy.
Make sure your school has backup majors, plenty of interesting extracurriculars, and an atmosphere you'll enjoy for four years.