University Admissions Blog
ANNOUNCEMENTS & ADVICE
We are just a few short weeks away from National College Admissions Day, when most students are expected to have decided which school they will attend. I have been receiving tons of emails and Facebook messages to help students determine which school is right for them. After all, it’s a stressful decision - and often the first major life decision students really have to grapple with.
For obvious reasons, I cannot respond to everyone, so I have put together this guide. I truly hope that it will help some of you sort through your options and choose the perfect university.
1 - Take a step back from outside influences and think about what you want
Of course you should consider the rankings and what your parents or friends think, but this is your decision in the end. Take some quiet time and think about what you really, truly want for yourself over the next four years. Fit is the most important criteria. You are much more likely to have a successful college career if you are in a place that you enjoy and that inspires you. As you take some time for yourself, think about…
Trust your gut. Where do you see yourself thriving? Which school “feels” the best?
If you want to take a more analytical approach, make a decision matrix. Draw a grid like this:
Then, in the "Factors" row, add elements that are important to you, such as academic rigor, location, etc. In the "Importance" row, rank each factor on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the most important. Add your universities to the left-hand column, and then you can get to work!
Go through all of the columns and rank each factor at each university (again, use the 1-5 scale), and then multiply by importance. When you are done, total up the score for each university, and you will have a clear idea of which school best fits your needs.
2 - Consider the financial impact on you and your family
Perhaps the cost of attending university isn’t a factor for you, but if it is, finances need to be a major part of your decision making. After all, attending school abroad is expensive.
You should have a full understanding of what it is going to cost to graduate from your university. This includes more than tuition - so don’t forget to factor in housing and living expenses, transportation, entertainment, textbooks, and other incidentals. Depending on your personal circumstances, you may also need to add the cost of healthcare.
You should also research the school’s graduation rate and average student debt, as these markers can indicate your own financial position at the conclusion of your program. If a school has a low on-time graduation rate and/or high average student debt, consider it more carefully.
Discuss the pros, cons, and costs of each institution with your family. Whether or not they pay for your education, your family will more than likely be impacted by your decision and they deserve to have their opinion included.
3 - Revisit the universities
Return to each university website, take online campus tours, read student reviews on niche.
You don’t have to conduct extensive research like you did prior to submitting your applications, but explore your options again. See if any of your school choices particularly excite you or repel you. Then consider going through step #1 again.
4 - Remember that you always have options
If you decide that you don’t like your university or that it is too expensive, remember that you always have the option of transferring or taking a gap year. I know this isn’t the most appealing option, but sometimes changing schools or taking time to prepare for university life can make you much happier and successful in the long run. It happens all the time.
I know that selecting a university can be a daunting decision, and I hope this guide can be of some help. Remember, at the end of the day, you will likely spend then next four years at the institution you choose, so be thoughtful and patient with yourself as you consider all of your options.
As always, best of luck!