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  • Writer's pictureChris Tamis

How am I supposed to decide?

Updated: Apr 30, 2020


By now, high school seniors have received admissions decisions from all of their colleges. Unfortunately, these past few weeks have forced "rising college freshman" to discard well thought out plans they had in place for choosing where they will attend in the fall of 2020. Admitted students days, self-guided campus tours and last minute trips to their final choices are all out the window. So, how do you decide when the potential exists that you may not get to actually "see" your schools before the national college commitment deadline? Fortunately, if you selected the schools you applied to carefully, you really can't make a bad decision.

Luckily, colleges and universities across the nation (and world) have taken steps to guide and assist accepted students who no longer have the traditional options available to make their final decision. With some hard work, inventiveness and internet bandwidth, you still have a tremendous amount of available resources to assist you.

So where do you start? Follow these steps to help assist you navigating the decision making process.

  • The first step is to visit the admissions page for each of the schools that are still in consideration and look for recently updated information addressing the COVID-19 crisis. Most importantly, verify the acceptance deadline date. Has it changed from May 1st to June 1st? Make sure you commit and remit your tuition deposit on time.

  • Consider appealing for additional financial aid. Colleges are very willing (especially now) to review your need-based aid package if something has changed in your family's financial picture (loss of income, change in housing situation, death in family). They will also consider increasing your merit-based aid if you can show substantial academic improvement (better standardized test scores, improved grades or GPA, academic awards). Comparison shopping (sending awards from other comparable schools), while often frowned upon, seems to be more acceptable now.

  • Make use of all available online resources. Colleges are being very creative in trying to make up for the cancelled on-campus events. Many are holding online conferences, making admissions officers available via video chats such as Zoom and Google Meet. Additionally, there are many ways to "virtually" tour a school.. Examples include CampusTours and YouniversityTV. Additionally, a YouTube search will also provide many student produced video tours (of varying quality and usefulness).

  • Look for "student driven" campus reviews. Colleges will all tell you they are the best, but independent student reviews often lead to honest and unbiased opinions (good and bad). View these with a grain of salt, but for the most part they can be trusted. Sites that offer this option include Unigo and Students Review.

  • It's time to be creative. Compile a list of questions and then reach out via email, social media or teleconferencing with academic departments, current students and admissions offices. Most schools are offering you the opportunity to have a "one-on-one" mini information session with an admissions officer to answer any last minute questions. Take advantage of all available options or create your own opportunities!

  • It may sound simple, but make an old fashioned "pro" and "con" list for each school. Be honest and try to rate every aspect of what your 4 years will be like. Consider items such as available majors, distance from home (even more important to some now), housing (are you guaranteed 1 or 4 years?), quality of food, campus setting, will you fit in, will it have activities that interest you and the true financial cost (discuss this as a family).

  • Sometimes, you need to go with your gut. Making the final decision can be scary! I have heard countless times, "I just knew this was my school". There is nothing wrong with that, and often it turns out to be the right decision.

  • Don't let yourself be pressured by friends, family and yes, even parents to make a decision you will regret. Sometimes, especially now, situations have changed that will alter the course you need to follow. If you planned correctly, each school, although not 100%, should offer the majority of items you were looking for.

Good luck seniors! You have worked hard to get here and I hope ultimately, you enjoyed the ride and settle in next fall at your great fit school!

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