How to Make Your Final School Decision

Every year— and this year has been no different — I see online posts and receive messages asking: “This school or that school?” I know it’s stressful.

How to Make Your Final School Decision

Every year— and this year has been no different — I see online posts and receive messages asking:  “This school or that school?” I know it’s stressful.

While it’s good to get feedback about specific schools (and I try to give feedback too when I can), I don’t think you should be making your decision based on the opinions of internet strangers. This is a personal and family decision. Here are some tips that will help, no matter which schools you’re considering.

  1. Virtual Tours: Do virtual visits and explore the websites of the schools you’ve received offers from. Examine their mottos and school papers. Do they fit your life and your philosophy? Do you see classes, activities, and research opportunities you want to take part in?
  2. Pros and Cons: This one is my favorite! Make an oversized list of pros and cons for each of your school options. Put the name of the school at the top and then list all the pros and cons that you can think of for each school. Consider aspects like reputation, course offerings, finances, culture, departments, social opportunities, academics, geography, weather, and surrounding area. Put the posters on your wall and leave them there for a few days, adding and subtracting pros and cons as you ruminate on your offers. In other words, hang out with these lists for a few days. When one has more cons than pros, take it down.
  3. Do the 10/10/10 test: Ask yourself: “How will I feel about my decision in 10 hours? 10 weeks? 10 years?”
  4. Share Your Decision with a Few People: Make a choice. Tell your parents and (maybe) a friend or two, then wait a couple days. How do you feel? What does your gut tell you? Now that your “decision” is in the universe, does it feel right? If not, rethink it.
  5. Coin Toss: Assign each side of a coin one school you are considering, and flip it. The side that lands up is your school. Sleep on it, then do a gut-check. Does this school feel right? Or do you feel upset by the decision your coin made? If you find yourself wishing it had actually landed on the other side, rethink it.
  6. Gut Check: Sit in silence for 15 minutes and focus on your breath. What thoughts float by? What does your gut tell you?
  7. Finances: In my opinion, you should not take on debt if you have the option of attending university without it. However, if you are considering debt, one “rule of thumb” is take on no more debt than your potential first-year salary. For those of you considering grad school — especially law and medical school — you want the minimum debt possible. Don’t be afraid of renegotiating your financial aid. Lots of students do so successfully every year.

Looking for a little more guidance? Feel free to contact me directly.