How do I choose between two very similar schools?

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Our counselors answered:

How do I choose between two very similar schools?

Reecy Aresty
College Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & Author Payless For College, Inc.

How do I choose between two very similar schools?

Sometimes it just comes down to dollars & sense.

Sarah Contomichalos
Manager Educational Advisory Services, LLC

How do I choose between two very similar schools?

If at all possible, visit both and plan to spend at least a half day at each one. If possible, arrange to spend the night on each campus and attend two or three classes. The more time are able to spend the more you will see the differences. If you can not visit speak to as many current students as you can and ask them why they chose to attend school A versus B. If the two colleges are very similar it is likely that a number of current students also applied to both. It is a good idea to speak to many students as they will each have their own biasis and reasons.

Benjamin Caldarelli
Partner Princeton College Consulting, LLC

How do I choose between two very similar schools?

Visit each school, consider the costs, and talk it over with a trusted advisor.

Diana Hanson
Common Sense College Counseling College Mentors

How do I choose between two very similar schools?

I would suggest going to each college for a visit, if at all possible, even if you have visited before. Many colleges offer an 'admitted students' weekend, where you have an opportunity to sit in on a class or two, stay in the dorms, and so on. By experiencing both colleges once more, in close proximity, time-wise, your better fit may emerge. Have you compared each school on a series of elements that are most important to you, e.g. course offerings in your major, class size, internship opportunities, clubs, recreational facilities, dorms, study abroad opportunities? If so, and you're still have trouble making the decision between two similar schools, you're likely to be happy at either one. Perhaps, at that point, you might want to look at the financial aid offers again and see whether one is the better "deal" financially.

Kristina Dooley
Independent Educational Consultant Estrela Consulting

How do I choose between two very similar schools?

The best way to choose between to two very similar schools is to try and participate in an overnight visit. By spending 24 hours on a campus you will get a much better feel for the social atmosphere of the school and whether or not it's the right fit for you. You may discover that the two schools aren't so similar after all!

Bill Pruden
Head of Upper School, College Counselor Ravenscroft School

How do I choose between two very similar schools?

The fact that they are similar means that you have honed in on the type of school that will best serve your needs and so the decision comes down to either more specific things or simply a feeling of greater comfort. Is one farther away from home and does that matter? Is there a substantive difference in cost? Questions like that need to be addressed. That being said, their similarity should mean that programatically they will both serve your needs, and so you might ask whether one feels better and are you more comfortable there? In the end, it often comes down to that.

Rebecca Joseph
Executive Director & Founder getmetocollege.org

How do I choose between two very similar schools?

First, be happy that you have this challenge. Make a chart of pros and cons. Look at location, programs, social life, etc. Is one dramatically more expensive than the other. Is one closer to a city? Go back to each campus and spend time in classes, dorms, and activities. If you still can't decide, then pretend for one entire day you are going to one of the schools. How does it feel? Then do the same for the second. I worked with a girl who couldn't make up her mind until the last day. She flipped a coin, and then realized she knew which one to accept. She and the other kids who have been in this lucky situation, always wind up at the right school. .

Tira Harpaz
Founder CollegeBound Advice

How do I choose between two very similar schools?

After all your acceptances are in, if you are choosing between two similar schools, there are a number of things you can do to make a decision. First of all, if at all possible, visit the schools during their "accepted student" programs. You might find that you feel much more comfortable at one school than another. Secondly, see if there are any financial reasons to pick one school over another-for example, while school costs might be similar, maybe one school will require you to fly home over vacations which will cost more money. Thirdly, take a look at the programs or majors you're interested in-does one school have a much better program or reputation in any of those fields? Finally, join the accepted students Facebook group for both schools. You might find that you just like one group of students better than another or you might learn some facts that will help you make a decision.

Shoshana Krieger

How do I choose between two very similar schools?

If you're having trouble deciding between two very similar schools, here are some ways to help differentiate. Did they offer different financial aid/merit scholarship packages? If you're deciding between two very similar schools, affordability could be a very compelling reason to choose one over the other. Visit both schools and have an overnight at each. One of the best ways to grasp the subtle nuances between schools is to spend the night in the dormitories. You'll get to see the students in their element and get a solid feel for atmosphere on a typical night. If you were admitted to two very similar schools, you have the luxury of being picky and focusing on what matters to you most. So enjoy it! Identify the specific factors that are most important to you (even if they seem minor), and research them at each of the two schools. Which has a more robust creative writing program? Maybe one is a little further or a little closer to home. They're both great schools, so it's okay to dig down into specifics and choose the school that has more of what you really like.

Tomika Ferguson
Program Coordinator for the 21st Century Scholarship Covenant Program Indiana University - Bloomington

How do I choose between two very similar schools?

There are several options to consider. First, identify what makes them similar and what makes them different. Second, write down what you desire your college experience to be like. Consider: major, campus size, relationships with professors, campus organization involvement, alumni success, career service options, on-campus living options, and distance from home. Focusing on these aspects of your two options will help you decide what is a priority and the quality of experience that each option will offer to you. Third, it would be great to visit or revisit and/or contact current students at the institution. Feel free to speak with admissions counselors and let them know that you would like to speak to a current student. However, if you can visit campus and can envision yourself at the institution, that is a point in the right direction. Fourth, your financial package can be influential in this process. Paying for college is a family decision. Which school is providing the most financial support for FOUR years towards your education? And, are there opportunities for additional funding as a current student if necessary. I believe that the quality of experience that a campus has the potential to offer, the experience of current students, and the balance of financial aid is important between two very similar schools. Each institution varies in the type of experience they are able to provide to students. Best of luck!