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5 Tips for Making a Final College Decision

Congratulations! College Decision Day on May 1st is right around the corner and your student has multiple Acceptance Offers. Here are some tips to help your student choose the college that is the best fit for the next four years and will launch their professional career.

This may be one of the largest financial decisions your family makes, so we advise parents to have productive discussions evaluating how each college meets your child’s academic, financial and social goals. These Tips will help you make the RIGHT college decision.

1. In Person Visits are Critical

Many colleges offer Admitted Student Days to give prospective freshmen a chance to spend time on campus evaluating how each college meets expectations. If a college does not offer such a program, we believe an on-campus visit is critical and a return visit may also help in the decision-making process.

While visiting, tour freshman dorms, sit in on a typical freshman class, talk to other students to see how they spend their free time, visit facilities that are important such as gyms, cafeterias, college meeting places and religious services.

2. Compare Costs

A critical component of making a final college decision is Cost. Your student may be offered aid in a variety of ways - scholarship, which directly lowers the cost of admission, work study which allows your student to contribute to her education, federal and state student loans which have fixed interest rates and must be repaid and finally parent loans.

Every college calculates parent Expected Financial Contribution differently. If your student has multiple financial aid offers, you should communicate with the Financial Aid office to discuss any opportunities to match an offer from another school. Be aware, as many colleges have seen spikes in college applications in the past 3 years their willingness to discuss or increase financial aid offers has been declining. They are typically putting their best offer forward first. One important question to ask is if this aid is guaranteed for four years and what caveats could put it in danger (GPA, number of credits, etc.)

We suggest putting a spreadsheet together to estimate costs for the next four years and the loan payments after graduation.

3. Will High School Credits be Accepted by a College

Many colleges offer credit for AP or other college-level classes like the IB Diploma which allows students to skip some college prerequisite classes. This is a very important consideration because it may give your student the opportunity to graduate early and save significant money and/or double major or have more class schedule flexibility.

4. Is this College the Best for your Student’s Major

If your student has a chosen major, it is very important to research how each prospective college meets your student’s professional goals. Does the college offer strong internship/research opportunities and summer opportunities for undergraduates? What percentage of students stay in this major and graduate in four years? If your student is undecided about a major, make sure that the college offers a rich offering of possible majors and makes it relatively easy to change majors without losing credits.

5. Consider the Entire College Experience

Finding the highest quality education at the best possible price is fundamental, but extracurricular activities are also critical. Sports, clubs, and fraternities each offer your student a chance to build life-long relationships. Use Admitted Student Days and Visits to consider if the college meets your students learning style, and personality. Is the class size, right? Are there the right social offerings? Does your student see themselves thriving on this campus?

If you follow these tips, we believe your student will make the RIGHT college decision.


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