Congratulations! The acceptance letters have finally reached your mailboxes and you’ve escaped the looming wrath of rejection or the dreaded waiting list. So, if you’re done jumping with joy (or having your moment), it’s time to grab a chair and make the crucial decision.
Well, it’s easy to pick if there’s just one letter (or maybe two), in which case you perhaps wouldn’t be reading this. It gets tougher when there’s a bundle of letters lying on the desk, and family and friends nudging you with their “right one” suggestions. But making the right decision is not a coin toss away, since you want to select the best college from the pile.
So What Do I Do Now?
You’ve done a lot of hard work applying to the different colleges, and now it’s time to take the final few steps.
- College Accreditation
This first thing that should grab your attention is whether the college is accredited by the government or not. It’s not worth spending the time and bucks if the degree you get in return is not recognized by the big universities. Imagine yourself going for a job interview or applying for higher courses, and your certificate is pushed back to you with a remark that it’s not from an accredited college. Always check for accreditation before signing the acceptance letter.
- Take the tour
Visit the college campus and revisit it more than once if needed. Check out the facilities, classrooms, laboratories, cafeteria and boarding arrangements.
Talk to people. Find out about the faculty and who’ll be teaching you. Talk to them, build a good rapport if possible, talk to students about their views and complete experience with the college (good and bad).
Check out the different programs, extracurricular activities, educational visits, communities and events that interest you and that you would like to be a part of when you get in. Take a complete tour and gather all relevant information.
- Check your finances
College education is expensive and study loans further add up to the existing pressure to perform well. Unless money is not a limiting factor or you have a fat college fund, you need to compare the different college offerings and pick the one that suits you financially.
List down the colleges in order of affordability to have a clear sense of your current financial standing. Check for financial aid and scholarships that the various colleges offer.
Once you’re done with the personal visits, reconsider your finances. Weigh out the various opportunities that you’ll have against the risks and decide if it’s worth taking that student loan.
Some colleges have restrictions against the work-study culture so make note of any such policies before signing the documents.
- Gather more information
You probably would have done all the necessary research before filling in your applications, but there’s no harm in digging a little deeper. Browse the college website and find out the right contacts who could answer your questions.
Make a list of questions, such as:
- What type of students feel comfortable studying here? Will I fit in?
- Does the college have many majors that might interest me?
- How many students graduate and how many leave after the freshman year?
- Where can I hang out for fun?
- Does the college offer job openings with companies?
Add more to the list and don’t shy away from asking them. Remember, the more you ask, the more you’ll know.
- Don’t take too long to decide
Colleges expect you to reply with your decision before the deadline date (May 1st in most cases) and it’s a date that you must respect and never miss out on. Send in your acceptance letter, the necessary deposit and a letter for financial aid (if required) well within the time limit to confirm your admission.
Make a decision based on your personal views and what you took away from your research. Think about your career and choose the place where you see a good prospect for yourself. Remember, there are people who drop out from Harvard in search of better prospects.
- Don’t worry
You may not always get into your dream college but it doesn’t mean that it’s the end of the road. It’s always possible to take a transfer if you don’t find the place to be a right fit for your career goals.
Sometimes, even the colleges you think are not good enough turn out to be the best for your career. It’s not the college name that defines your success but your performance in the course and the accolades that you gather in those years.
- Always send in a reply
Once you send in the acceptance letter and other documents to the college that you choose, it’s necessary that you also send in a letter of decline to the other colleges. This opens up a place for other students who are in the waiting list.
Be polite and thank them when you turn down their offer.
All your hard work has finally paid off. Now that you’ve found the right college, it’s time to throw a party for those who supported you! Make the most of your college years. They’ll probably be the ones you will fondly look back on in the years to come!