(Written by Lori McCormick)
March tends to be a busy month for students (and families!) anxiously waiting for the final round of college acceptance notifications. By April 1st, notifications should be received, giving students until May 1st, National Decision Day, to make their final decision.
One month is not a long time for families to plan out which colleges they will want to visit or revisit, then weigh the pros and cons before ultimately signing on the dotted line.
Here are a few things to prepare for the wild weeks ahead:
1. Virtual tours - mainly if your college list includes out of state campuses. Check out the campus’ virtual tours and get a sense of what the college looks like. Keep in mind, tours were created by a team of marketing experts to convince you they are the best.
2. Reach out to current students - in the age of social media, it is not hard to find someone willing to chat about their college experience. I have had several students reach out to friends or friends of friends to get a real student perspective instead of what the tour guide or admissions office tells you. Additionally, most colleges have an Instagram and/or Facebook account, check those out.
3. Visit the campus - if you plan on returning or visiting the campus for the first time, keep in mind that your college could be on spring break. I once had a student tour UCSB during spring break and hated the visit. They said it had a quiet and desolate feeling. If you have ever stepped foot on UCSB’s campus when students are there, it is anything but quiet! If your visit is during a time when students are not on campus, use your imagination to create the feeling of energy and buzz on the usually very busy campus.
4. Contact The Office of Admissions - these folks are your first line of communication and have spent months reading applications. They know who you are, either personally, if the campus is small, or in personality, if the campus is large. Either way, they are at the helm, ready to help you. A brief phone call could clear up any questions or concerns weighing on your mind.
5. Pros and Cons - creating a list of pros and cons is beneficial, in my opinion. Whether it be on a spreadsheet or a piece of paper, being able to compare your campuses may help you ultimately decide. Make your list of criteria that matter to you. Location, class size, research opportunities, Greek life, food, dorms, sports, whatever it is (I call these your non-negotiables), list them out to determine if the college has enough of what you need to feel supported and successful.
6. Relax - you put a lot of effort into building your college list, writing your personal statement essays, and applying. The colleges spent a lot of time reading your application and selecting you to join their Class of 2024. Wherever you decide to attend, embrace the newness that college and living on your own has to offer. The college will provide the academic foundation to prepare you for life after college, but you are the captain of your destiny. Without sounding too cliché - you have grown from a caterpillar to a butterfly. It is time to spread those wings!
7. Decline all other offers - once you decide where you will attend, it is courteous to decline all other offers. Your acceptance means you are coveting a spot that could be given to someone else who is on a waitlist.