Tips for Choosing Your College or University
The wait is finally over. You know your admission results. Congratulations on the acceptances you have earned—you’re on your way to a bright future!
Now it’s time to choose, but how? Here are some tips, and of course you can also consult your college or school counselor.
1: Decide about any wait lists and focus on your options.
If you are on a wait list for admission, follow any directions to reaffirm interest should you wish to pursue it. Then, set the matter aside and focus on making a choice among the available options. If you decline a wait list offer, you might create an option for someone who would like to have it. You can withdraw your application to any school where you have been waitlisted or admitted and are no longer interested. Think of those who will benefit from your anonymous gift.
2: Be creative about researching colleges and universities.
Not being able to visit colleges and universities in person is a hassle, but there are work-arounds. Some schools are offering visits by appointment, and others may do so in the near future. Virtual tours and online events for admitted students can help as well. Reach out to current college students to get a diversity of opinions. If you belong to an underrepresented group, consult campus administrators and student leaders to learn what campus life is really like and what kind of community resources are available. Some colleges and universities are extending the May 1 enrollment confirmation deadline, creating more time for you to research and weigh your options. Stay in touch with the undergraduate admission offices via their websites. Most have admission reps designated by territory. Email this person with your questions or concerns. Don’t hesitate to reach out and pose questions to admission and financial aid counselors. They want you to enroll and are eager to help.
3: Weigh your options and lean on your wise advisers.
Ask yourself, “What is the current state of my interests and plans, and have they changed—have I changed—in the past year? What do I think now about the size, cost, diversity and inclusion, distance from home, academic and career opportunities, co-curricular life, virtual or in-person learning, and surrounding community of my college options? What kind of residential life suits me, and are learning/living communities available? Would more research lead me to a destination that will feel like a second home? Am I choosing based on vague reasons or thoughtful analysis?” Some students organize the pros, cons, and offerings of each college or university on a spreadsheet. Also, now is the time to turn to the wise advisers in your life. Instead of asking them where you ought to enroll, consider asking, “How would you describe my strengths and interests?” You can take it from there.
4: If you’re undecided about your college major or college life, reach out directly to professors, administrators, or college students.
Many students are undecided about their major or career, and that’s fine. But you’ve probably narrowed it down or have combinations in mind, and that’s all you need to launch your college major research. But how do you get started? Email your admission counselor, or just email the relevant academic department(s) at your prospective school. Ask if you can communicate with a professor in your preferred field of study or an upper-level student majoring in that field. These conversations could be game-changers as you weigh your college options.
5: Check in with the career planning office.
One of your most vital resources is the career planning office. Call or email them as well. Tell them the majors/minors that most interest you and ask what they do to guide and assist students with your particular interests. Ask about internships, alumni networks, popular companies that interview on-campus, summer jobs, interest surveys, résumé and interview services, and career/professional school placement. Once you estimate all the time and money you and your family will invest in your undergraduate experience, the value of college major and career planning quickly becomes clear. You should build a working relationship with your school’s career planning department no later than your first semester.
6: Consider how you’ll finance college.
Let’s introduce the elephant in the room: money. Money isn’t everything, but it’s very important. Choices you make now will profoundly affect your future financial life. Low interest college loans can enable futures that would otherwise be out of reach. At the same time, consider that, the average debt in 2019 for Georgia college graduates was more than $28,000. Consider the impact of debt on your early career and what it will mean for your lifestyle, freedom, and graduate or professional school choices. Ensure that you thoroughly understand the details of any financial awards; if you’re not sure, reach out to the financial aid office.
Once you have enrolled and are working toward your academic major(s), speak with professors about departmental funds available to help you earn while you learn. Perhaps you could become a tutor or research/technical assistant. (What a terrific way to network with faculty!) After your first year, student jobs may open in the residence life office, and other opportunities abound throughout campus in a wide array of departments. Be creative and play up your talents: If you can construct a website or whip up tasty pastries, you can make money. Also, consider the potential earning power of your college major. If you are planning a major in the humanities, social sciences, or fine arts, that’s great; yet it might be a good idea to consider adding a minor or double-major in something like computer science, business, natural science, or communications. The good news is that colleges and universities are more flexible than ever at helping you tailor your undergraduate experience to your particular needs and plans.
7: Keep going and keep it all in perspective.
These tips are a good starting place and there are tons of other resources available to help you finalize your college decision. Some especially helpful websites and books include:
Remember, these simple words will see you through many challenges: Own your education, keep up, and keep a sense of humor!
NACAC member Bryan Rutledge serves as director of college counseling at Woodward Academy (GA).
Published at Thu, 22 Apr 2021 12:34:09 +0000
Article source: http://admitted.nacacnet.org/wordpress/index.php/2021/04/22/tips-for-choosing-your-college-or-university/