Two weeks ago I talked about what to do when you are waitlisted at a college, but let’s turn our attention to a more positive outcome: the acceptances. Hopefully you have heard from at least one college that you have been accepted--and even better if you’ve heard from multiple colleges! The question remains, however: what now?
If you’ve only been accepted to one college, then it’s a no brainer. Say you’ll attend, pay the deposit, and start the process--housing selections, testing options, email accounts, crazy social media joy, etc.
But what about if you have multiple acceptances? Well, that gets slightly more complicated. The good news is that you know you’ll be going to a school in the fall. The bad? You have to narrow down the choice.
There are different philosophies on how to approach your selection process. Jeffrey Brenzel, the former Dean of Admissions at Yale, suggests that students wipe their minds of any initial impressions of their colleges. Remember when you labeled your schools as “safety net,” “reach,” and “fit”? Forget about it. Reevaluate each of them with fresh eyes, especially now that you have acceptance offers--and financial aid packages.
Brenzel’s reasoning is simple: with acceptances in hand, and now that you’re out of the process, you are a different person, and your goals probably have changed since you originally applied. And if not, you have reality to face and not a fuzzy future that appeared when you first started applying.
Brenzel supplies another important piece of advice: find out as much as possible about the culture of the schools and learn as much as possible from the students. I agree. The American undergrad experience is surprisingly more homogenous than you’d think. Sure, there are higher ranked departments and superstar professors, but many experiences are shared across the board. It is the culture of the school, the student body, and the people with whom you interact that really define your experiences. You want a place that feels like home.
Other people, of course, have different opinions on what you should prioritize. For example, Linda Haskins, the director of admissions at Howard University, believes that students should consider their financial aid packages a top priority. Financial aid is definitely an important consideration and one that you shouldn’t take lightly.
For example, some students are accepted to UT Dallas with full-rides, or all tuition paid, but are also accepted to high-tier colleges, such as New York University and Duke, with smaller or no financial aid (other than loans). While UT Dallas doesn’t necessarily carry the same cultural currency as NYU or Duke, it still has quality programs for an incredible price point. Not to say you are foolish for going to NYU or Duke, just that you should consider your acceptance from all angles, especially the financial one.
Regardless, at the end of the day, you should be more than happy that at the start of fall you will have a college to call your own. But remember that choosing a college from a stack of acceptances should be no simple task. While you may have a pretty good idea of where you want to go, just double and triple check that you aren’t overlooking something. April is the month to make sound decisions, and while there are only a few weeks left until the May 1 deadline to notify the colleges, you still have time to get your choice right. Don't let laziness or negligence put you on the wrong course for the next four years!
If you are stuck and not sure how to approach your acceptances, then let us at B2A help you narrow down the options. We have college admissions counselors who work with students during all phases of the admissions process and would love to help you! Being accepted to a college is one thing; accepting a college for yourself is a whole different ball game!