Tips to Decide Between Multiple Colleges
So, you’ve spent high school grinding away—grades, volunteering, sports, student government, and standardized exams. You put together an impressive profile and a school list that you could be proud of. You applied and waited and waited. Your first acceptance you will never forget. Oh, wow, I’m going to college! You got so excited, but begin to wonder: will I have to decide between multiple colleges?
And then your second may have come in. And then your third. It could be that you got rejected by your dream school, but accepted a few other places.
And now you are sitting in your senior year of high school having to decide between multiple great programs and colleges, not sure of which to commit to. It is a major life decision—probably your first—and you have little life experience to convince you what factors to consider.
Well—that’s what we are here for. We want to provided some tips to decide between multiple colleges, because you may be asking yourself:
How do I decide between multiple colleges which have accepted me?
This is, first and foremost, a very personal decision—and there really is no “right” or “wrong” answer (especially because you will not quite know what the other outcomes would have been). It is easy to rely on some national ranking and select the most prestigious, but know that these companies make profit on readership, and keeping readers engaged often requires changing these rankings every year in highly controversial and non-transparent ways.
Further, a program’s ranking is not always a reflection of how well you will prosper here. For instance, some people will prefer a small liberal arts school where you know every person in your class, receive very close attention from faculty, and maintain very strong alumni connections throughout your career. Others, however, will prosper in larger competitive research institutions where they have access to a great selection of research opportunities and big faculty names in the field to work with and to learn from.
It might be difficult while still in high school, but one of the first steps is going to be deciding what you want out of college. Is it the coming of age experience? Then prioritize campus culture, like sports and greek life. Is it formal education in a particular field? Then look at faculty doing research in that field and the academic program for educating students. Is it preparation for professional school? Then look at the pre-professional organizations and resources offered to students.
Do this research, and then take the time to visit. If you are able to, visit each school that you are accepted at. The atmosphere of a campus is hard to capture without actually experiencing first-hand. Attend a sports game or visit a local hangout. Is it a culture you are excited to immerse yourself into? Is the campus more social or more academic, and does that align to your personality and goals? Talk with the students—what do they like most about the school? Were they deciding between many programs? Are they happy?
Finally, seek advice from your counselors and teachers, at your school and at the colleges where you’ve been accepted. You’ve worked so hard to get in, and now multiple institutions have decided that you would be a good fit attending as an undergraduate. Use this opportunity to explore what each college has to offer and what interests you the most.
One piece of advice would be not to simply go to a school because your good high school friends are going there. You’ll make some of your best friends in college, and there is no shortage of people with similar interests in the dorms! Your best friend today won’t be your only close companion tomorrow.
However you make your choice, seek as much information as you can. Once you’ve made your decision, make the best of it! Enjoy your last months of high school and look forward to your university years! Just make sure you’re ready for when you go!