5 Things Smart College Applicants Do Before Decision Day

Male High School Student

The weather is finally warming up and summer vacation is so close we can almost taste it…

Seniors, just a few more exams and final papers, and you will be officially DONE with your high school careers. But first, before we can get to any of that, it’s time to face Decision Day!

May 1st is National Decision Day, when high school seniors must choose which schools they plan to attend and submit their first deposits to seal the deal. One of our clients reported that he has been losing sleep trying to decide between Cornell and Dartmouth. Sounds like a win-win to us!

Let’s assume that you’ve already crunched the numbers and narrowed your list down to the academic programs that you are most interested in. But what if you’re still left with two or three or even four schools that all seem like REALLY good options? What if it feels impossible to make up your mind? Well, here are a few tips to help you narrow it down even further and ensure that you end up at the school of your dreams:

1) First and foremost, congratulate yourself!

By having a decision to make, you already have so much to be proud of. Many people will say that choosing a school is the “hard part.” But if you look back on all of that studying you did during high school and for the SATs, and all the writing and rewriting you did for your college essays, you will realize that you already did all of the hard work. Choosing a school should be the FUN part! So, rather than worrying about choosing the right or wrong school, take a breath, step back, and enjoy the success you’ve had so far. Also remember that there are plenty of resources out there that offer guidance. Check out some additional articles below that may help you through the final stage of the admissions process.

Give Yourself A High Five

2) Remember that your choice isn’t written in stone

Choosing a college or university is probably the first BIG decision you will make as you enter adulthood, so it’s only natural to feel some pressure to make the RIGHT choice. However, the reality is that you won’t REALLY know what it’s like to attend a school until you are there, enrolled in classes, and experiencing it for yourself. Of course, this is a decision that should be made thoughtfully, but don’t stress. Trust that you are capable of making the best decision (and trust us when we say that it won’t be the end of the world if you later realize that you didn’t).

3) Pay the contenders a visit

If you are deciding between two schools with comparable academics and resources, the decision might come down to “feel.” If you live close and haven’t been on campus already, try to visit at least your top-choice school. Can you picture yourself on campus? Does just being there excite you? Obviously, visiting isn’t an option for every candidate or every school, so if it’s not an option think about what type of community you would feel most comfortable in. Are you an urbanite? Or do you love the outdoors? Do you want to be in the heart of a fast-paced coastal city, or do you prefer the slower pace of the midwest? Is it important for you to be close to your family? Factor in what you know about the communities that surround the schools you are considering and think about what type of environment you want to be in for the next four years.

4) Put your thoughts on paper and make a pro-con list

Making pro-con lists will give you a chance to organize your thoughts and clarify what it is you are looking for in a school. Chances are the number of entries in one of your pro-lists will far exceed the others!

make a list!

5) Trust your instincts

I’m sure your parents, teachers, counselors and every other adult in your life has already weighed in. (See our thoughts on what happens when there are too many cooks in the kitchen.) With their insights in mind, it’s time for YOU to decide. Deep down, you’ve probably already made your decision, so trust your gut.

Listen to your gut

What if you’ve tried all that and STILL can’t make up your mind? What if things didn’t go your way and you don’t love ANY of your options? Well, here’s a piece of advice from Tony Soprano: “A wrong decision is better than indecision.” In other words, be bold and brash and don’t look back… Okay, we’re kidding, of course. Take your time, carefully weigh your options, and heed some GOOD advice from one of our admissions experts, Co-Founder Raj Patil:

Finally, don’t forget to pledge your #Collegiance through College Board for the chance to win the $5,000 grand prize or 11 other cash prizes! (Which you can then put aside to buy textbooks, of course.) All you have to do is share your Decision Day story by posting a college announcement video on Instagram and tagging your video with #collegiance by May 9, 2016. Videos will be judged by their quality, enthusiasm and creativity/originality, and there will be 12 winners and $17,000 in total cash prizes.

Need some help with a college application? That’s what we’re here for!

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