sign for the admissions office at a college

If your son or daughter is lucky, he or she has been accepted to multiple colleges and universities. Having spent several weeks celebrating these successes, it is now time to make the final decision. May 1 is National College Decision Day, so called because the vast majority of U.S. colleges and universities set this as the deadline for students notify them of their decision to attend. If your son or daughter is struggling with this life altering decision, C2 Education has some advice:

Get More Information

Presumably, you and your child already researched any potential schools before submitting applications. Whether this is the case or not, now is an excellent time to gather as much information as possible in order to make a fully informed decision. Students should consider questions such as:

  • How many students stick around after freshman year?
  • How many students actually graduate?
  • How many students find good jobs after graduation?
  • Does the school offer the academic programs I’m interested in?
  • Are there extracurricular activities and social clubs that appeal to me?
  • What kinds of students enjoy attending this school?

Once you’ve created a list of questions, it’s time to find the answers. Here are some places to start your search:

  • If you haven’t already done so and the campus is nearby, visit the campus. A campus visit reveals far more about a college than any website will.
  • Go through the college’s website with a fine toothed comb. Read between the lines to learn about the college’s atmosphere and values.
  • Look over the school newspaper (most are available online). The school paper often offers a glimpse of campus life and available activities.
  • Access the course catalogue (if not available online, most schools will gladly provide one). If the school doesn’t offer interesting courses, you probably don’t want to attend.
  • Check out online reviews from other students. Some sites to start with include: The University ReviewCollegeTimesUnigoCollege Prowler, and Students Review.
  • Contact the admissions officers with any unanswered questions. People who work for the college may be biased, but they also know more about the school than anyone else.

Compare Your Options

Once you’re fully informed, it’s decision time. Choosing which college to attend is the first major life decision most students make – it’s a harrowing, terrifying, and exciting experience. Many students are tempted to make this decision purely based on emotion (i.e. “I got into my dream school! It’s expensive, but who cares?”), but this decision must be made in a logical and thoughtful manner.

  • Compare financial aid packages, and rule out any schools that are too far beyond your family’s means.
  • Make a pro and con list for each school. Sometimes seeing all of the possible benefits and consequences in black and white can make the decision easier.
  • If your child is still stuck, go with his gut. Your child will spend roughly 4 years living and studying at this school – ultimately, it is your child who will have to decide what is right for him.

Respond Correctly

There’s a bit more to finalizing a college decision than simply sending in a form. Follow these steps to get all your ducks in a row:

  • Send your Statement of Intent to Register and your deposit to your chosen college. Make sure to re-read all the materials that came from the colleges so that you submit every required document!
  • Notify the other colleges that you will not be attending. Many schools will already have sent a form that essentially asks you to “check yes or no” – if so, simply submit that form. If there was no form, notify the colleges in writing. Don’t feel obligated to include an explanation – a brief note stating that you have carefully weighed your options and decided to attend another school will suffice. Notifying your reject colleges might seem like a massive waste of time, but it’s the polite thing to do. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of other students on the wait list, and by notifying the college that you will not attend, you open your spot to another student.
  • Review any and all paperwork your college has sent. Make note of any additional applications and deadlines (such as housing applications). Check to see whether the college requests a final transcript, immunization documents, or other documentation and submit the appropriate documents in a time manner.

Once all of this has been finished, you can breathe a sigh of relief – the long and arduous road to college admission is FINALLY done!

And what about those students with the opposite problem – the ones who didn’t receive any offers for admission? Check back next week for advice.