Preparing for College

A Wealth of Choices

In the world of college admission, can there be too much of a good thing? Sometimes. Read on.

If you're a high school senior who applied to college this year, you'll know soon who's accepted you. Some of you may get into every school where you applied. If so, congratulations!

Having a pile of acceptance letters from schools you like can pose a problem. It's a happy problem, to be sure, but a difficulty nonetheless.

Perhaps you gained admission to your clear, first-choice college in December, through an Early Decision/Action application. Maybe, in your pile of acceptance letters, there will be one that suits you perfectly, making all the others unnecessary. If so, no problem.

What should you do, though, if you have three or four acceptances and none is a clear favorite? This happens more frequently than you might imagine. The solution to finding the right one lies in doing some careful review and consultation with your family.

If considerations such as location, student-body size, program offerings, and reputation are all about equal (and you detect no true preference stirring in your heart), then money has to be a major consideration. Financial aid packages arrive with the acceptance letters. Examine them carefully. Ignore the "sticker price" of the schools for a moment and go straight to the bottom line.

Which school's offer puts the smallest drain on your family's finances? Is there a clear winner now? If there's no other criterion for deciding, then money should help you decide. Don't forget that you can sometimes earn extra financial aid with just a phone call to the college's financial aid office. After you have satisfied yourself that you have the best-possible packages, then decide.

Remember, too, that you can make a quick visit between now and May 1, the traditional response deadline. Visits can sometimes sway the undecided. Please keep your parents involved in your decision. They maintain a large stake in your college education. Although most parents respect their child's decision on college selection, they can provide valuable perspective for that decision.

No matter where you end up going to college, compliment yourself on an admission process well done.

Be sure to check out all my admissions-related articles and book reviews at College Confidential.