Once you've done your research and gathered all the information you need, you may think you are ready to decide where to apply. Not so fast! Are you truly ready to make an informed, reasonable, and heartfelt decision?
An Informed Decision
An informed decision means you have all the facts. If you are missing some detail or information, you should fill in the gaps. If the information you need isn't in the college publications you already have or available from other sources, call the appropriate department at the college. Most importantly, visit the college if you can. Make sure you have all the facts you need before you make your decision.
A Reasonable Decision
A reasonable decision means that you have considered your chances of acceptance at the colleges you're most interested in. What's more, if you do get accepted, you know you'll be able to afford it. Finally, you should be fairly confident of succeeding at the colleges personally and academically. Review each school's admissions requirements and make sure you are a solid candidate and that your qualifications match what the school is looking for.
A Heartfelt Decision
A heartfelt decision means you aren't basing your decision solely on measurable criteria. It means that you're also going with your intuition and instincts—that you're following your gut. You should feel good about each campus and the people there. Each school should fit your personality in important ways—and challenge you in just the right ways.
The Right Decision
Make sure you're happy with every college on your list before you apply—you know you will be attending one of them.
- Go ahead and pick two or three "dream" colleges, as long as you think you might have any chance of getting in.
- Then choose two or three more realistic colleges, still close to what you want, but not as selective as the dream schools.
- Finally, pick two or three "safe" choices, colleges you think you'll like and that you know will admit you.
Although cost is certainly an important factor, don't automatically exclude colleges based on high costs alone. If you qualify academically you may qualify for sufficient financial aid as well. Once you've made your final decisions, go ahead and request application materials if you don't already have them. Complete your applications, concentrate on your senior year classes, and wait for news from the college admission offices with a minimum of stress. A final review of all the factors influencing your decision will boost your confidence that you are well on your way to a college that's right for you.