May 1st is right around the corner—the weather is warmer, flowers are blooming, and high school seniors are tasked with deciding where they will go to college in the fall. In addition to being a celebration of springtime, May 1st is also National Decision Day. If your student has been accepted to more than one school, congratulations! Your child’s good fortune may also lead to much deliberation as they pick their college. Here are some quick tips on helping your senior choose which college to attend:
1. Revisit your short list
The ball is back in your court: This is your opportunity to re-evaluate your initial school choices and reflect on why each school seemed to be a good fit in the first place.
2. Rank your priorities
With your student, make a list of the pros and cons for each college, from school size to desired diversity to athletic programs. Then each of you should rank each pro and con in order of importance to you. Compare what points you each find most critical and compare them to what each college in play really offers. Have your student consider what matters most to them as part of their college experience. Is it opportunities for undergraduate research? Or being part of a specific community, like an honors program or sports team?
3. Take the virtual tour—again
If you were able to visit the college prior to the pandemic, a virtual visit will conjure up memories. Many seniors have never set foot on campus, but they have done the virtual tours and they’ve talked to current students. Advise your student to immerse themselves in the campus culture from a distance one more time: Find the school or specific academic department on Instagram or YouTube. Check Reddit threads, collegeconfidential.com
or Induck.co for insider knowledge. Listen to your intuition.
4. Check each school’s website to see if they are taking visitors.
Consider an in-person visit if possible. Some schools have reinstated in-person visits with social distancing measures in place.
5. Consider the financials
Review all financial aid and scholarship offers. Consider which colleges will help your student reach their goals without getting you or your child into a financial hole. School cost aside, you also need to consider travel expenses, off-campus housing costs, and other future expenditures that will be required by each college.
6. Focus on your academic goals
Have your child research the professors and departments of his or her chosen major. Faculty and departments at a smaller school can be stronger and more prestigious for certain fields than ones at a larger ranked school. Some schools like M.I.T. have super strong programs for those interested in STEM but may not be right for someone interested in literature. If your child’s major is undecided, a larger university may be better as it could allow them to explore the widest variety of fields.
7. Seek out recommendations and opinions
Students and parents should speak to those around you: your counselors, teachers, and/or mentors. Many past and present students have something to say. International College Counselors offers a ‘Let’s Discuss’ hourly package to non-clients, and we welcome any of our clients to schedule a call. Keep in mind, opinions are just that: opinions. Go with your gut.
Share your concerns with your student and listen to theirs. Offer insight into your student’s options without taking over.
Ultimately, families should do what is best for them, and not what “sounds best” to extended family and friends.
Still need help deciding which college to attend? College advisors at ICC can help you and your student with the pros and cons. Email your International College Counselors advisor or call 954-414-9986.