Once accepted, how do you choose between colleges?

College Search

Our counselors answered:

Once accepted, how do you choose between colleges?

Mollie Reznick
Associate Director The College Connection

Once accepted, how do you choose between colleges?

If you are really torn between a couple of schools and don't know which to choose, the best way to decide is to fully experience each school. You can do this by scheduling an overnight at each school. While you are there, attend classes that interest you, speak with professors, get a sense of the student body, eat in the dining halls, and really try to envision yourself as a part of the community. Your choice will become clear.

Lorraine Serra
President/Founder PortfolioPrep

Once accepted, how do you choose between colleges?

Choosing between colleges is partly a logical decision, and partly a "gut" decision. By all means visit each college if at all possible after you have received an offer of admission. The amount of info and "feel" you will get for a college cannot be understated. In many cases, you'll know quickly whether you'll fit in, and if that particular place is one where you'd like to live for the next four years. On the practical side, there's no better substitute for a "Pro and Con" list for each college. Factor in such important things as your financial aid package, distance, availability of intended major, social culture of the school, etc. When you have this info in front of you, it's easier to see what each college really offers you. Depending on what is most important to you, you may have an easier time of making a final decision.

Geoff Broome
Assistant Director of Admissions Widener University

Fit Happens

It is all about Fit. First it's the academic fit. Then it is the social fit. Hopefully you have been accepted to a college that "fits" into these categories. The final piece of the puzzle is Financial Fit. It has to make sense in terms of dollars and cents. But you won't know this final piece until Late March or early April. Once you have the Student Aid Report from each college, then you can compare offers and make good decisions.

Margaret Tung
Strategist Yale University

Once accepted, how do you choose between colleges?

1. Which one gives you the greatest access to resources and opportunities you might be interested in? 2. Which school has given you the best financial aid package, if you've applied for one? 3. Visit and see where you'd be most happy. If you can't visit, go to some accepted student receptions in your area and assess whether you can see yourself going to college/spending four years with them.

Eric Beers, Ph.D.
College and Career Counselor Air Academy High School

Once accepted, how do you choose between colleges?

This is a very individualized question. It is based on a lot of personal and family factors. If financial consideration is a huge question to your family, the financial aid and scholarship package maybe very important. The overall quality of the education you will receive at each school is an important consideration as well. The most important consideration is personal fit and feel of each college. You might have an top-notch, very selective school on your finalist list, but it doesn't feel right to you; maybe too competitive, too much back-stabbing, or trying to crowd each other out to be the best student. Maybe a smaller liberal arts college feels much better, much more at home, to you. If there is any way possible, my best advice is to visit your final 2 or 3 schools, really analyze the students, professors, atmosphere, and decide for yourself where you can do your best learning and growth as a person.

Cheryl Millington

Once accepted, how do you choose between colleges?

Congratulations! You now have an even tougher decision to make. I suggest that you refer to your original research. Remind yourself of what attracted you to each school and perhaps how you ranked them at that time. How did you feel about each after you visited the campus? Did you like one more than the other? Probably the only new information you have now is scholarship and financial aid. But do not automatically go with the school that offered the larger financial assistance. Make a list of the pros and cons of each school and see how they stack up. If you are still stuck to make a decision, talk to more students and hopefully that will help you decide. The good news is that you have great news, just take your time and decide. Congratulations, once again and good luck!

Annie Reznik
Counselor/CEO College Guidance Coach

Once accepted, how do you choose between colleges?

When you are trying to identify the best school, think less about the schools and more about you. When you focus on factors, not specific schools it will bring clarity to finding the best fit for you. What are the 3-5 most important characteristics of a college for you? Be as precise as possible ("fall football feel" is better than "good vibe" and "excellent classic ballet instruction" is better than "dance major"). Assign weights to these factors: is dance going to be 50% of the decision? or are you likely to change your major? You should solicit opinions from key stakeholders (i.e. parents). When you collect feedback from others, don't let them tell you the best school--ask: what characteristics do you think are most important for me to find in college? Ask them assign weights, too. You may think that money is the most significant factor to your parents, when in reality they most value the quality of instruction at a given institution.

Katie Parks
Former Admissions Counselor

Once accepted, how do you choose between colleges?

Once accepted, there are a few things to consider when deciding which one to choose: (After congratulating yourself on all your acceptances of course!) Academics: Does this school have the major or course of study you wish to pursue? If you are an undecided student, how does this school help you make that choice, and how many majors do they offer in your general field of interest. If you know what you want to study, what opportunities are there for additional research, internship or practicum experiences? Cost: Some schools may offer you different levels of financial support. Some could offer you scholarship money, or enroll you in work-study, or give you minimal financial aid and request you take out loans. While money should not be the only factor, it is a big factor when it comes to figuring out if you can actually afford to attend the school you want. The Personal Touch: There are often factors that are important to you about a school (say you want a school that has an awesome football team) that just are no big deal to someone else (while your next door neighbor hates football, but really wants to be on a dance team). Every student should make a list of the top 3 things they’re looking for in a school. This can even include the type of residence hall you want to live in, opportunities to work on campus, or the public transportation system the school runs. These 3 things will be different for every student, and before you make any decision about what school to go to, you should sit down and think about what you really want from your campus. The “X” Factor: Often selecting the right school comes down to “fit.” Does this place feel right to you? Can you see yourself studying here, engaging with other students, achieving success. If you feel uneasy about a school before you even get there, it can often be a struggle to ever find a comfort zone there. Trust your gut – you have to like where you’ll be spending the next few years of your life. (If you attend a residential school this will be your new home, so you want to be comfortable there!)

Dr. Bruce Neimeyer
CEO/Partner Global College Search Associates, LLC

Once accepted, how do you choose between colleges?

If you have done your homework prior to applying you should have decided on these schools for very specific reasons. I encourage students to return to those reasons and start filling in more information. At the stage of acceptance you have probably learned more about the schools in relation to your initial selection criteria. Fill that information in. Now expand it. Are there new things you wish to consider now that you have been thinking or picturing yourself at those schools. Make a pro and con list for each school. What does this tell you? If there is a clear "stand out" school or if there are several, I suggest returning to campus for another look. It will either confirm what you believe you saw the first time or now that you are paying attention to some of these things more seriously, you might see the school in a whole new light for good or for bad. Each of these steps should help you to visualize your self in the setting better to know if this will be the right fit for you or not. Just remember to be true to who you are and not who you wish you were in making the final decision. The former will always lead to a better decision!

Joan Thomas

Once accepted, how do you choose between colleges?

I would hope that you had a priority listing of your colleges when you applied. Once you have all your acceptances, time to do another pass at research. Can you answer the following questions about your top 3-5 colleges? 1. Total cost of attendance 2. Retention rate 3. Graduation rate 4 -5 years 4. Did you tour the campus 5. Do they have the major you are most interested in 6. Did you rank class size-access to professors-internships 7. Scholarships? Merit aid? Athletic or talent aid?