As this week’s deluge of college acceptances floods into the houses of seniors across the country, I consider myself lucky to be done with the whole process. However, many of my friends are not as fortunate, and are now faced with perhaps the toughest decision of their lives (so far): picking a college.
“Choice” is the buzzword that seems to be on the tip of everyone’s tongue at school. Several of my friends have already heard back from all their colleges and have many to choose from. Others do not have the luxury of six or seven potential choices, but they don’t seem to envy those who received the thick envelope from multiple colleges. The trend I have noticed is that many of my peers simply don’t know which college they want to go to and feel overwhelmed by all the choices. One of my friends equated it to reading a menu with dozens of options; most of them look delicious, so it feels impossible to narrow the choices down to just one.
Here’s one example: Student A applied to nine schools and was accepted by six of them. Together, they’re a representative sample of just about every type of college: big universities, small liberal arts colleges, some with big party scenes, some focused more on academics, and various geographic locations. Her problem is that she likes them all equally, and can envision herself being happy at any of them. What is she to do?
Some of my friends are going a more logical route à la Rory Gilmore: pro/con lists. They are going through each school’s website, course catalog, and a bunch of college guidebooks and writing down each and every pro or con they can find. While the empirical approach seemed to work for Rory, it isn’t necessarily the best way to go about making this decision. At the very least, this method should be balanced out by taking into account the emotional side of the issue.
When I first walked onto the campus of my school, I had a gut instinct that told me I’d be going there in the fall of 2009. It was the first school (of many) I’d looked at, so my parents just smiled sheepishly and prodded me along the tour, but I was positive that I was going to apply there early. A dozen college visits and three college guidebooks later, I was applying there early decision and, fortunately, was accepted. The gut approach worked for me, but it wasn’t the only evaluation I used. I didn’t make pro/con lists, but I reasoned why my school of choice was the best fit for me out of the other possibilities. Hopefully, my experiences over the next four years will prove that I was right.
To all the current college students and college grads out there, what was this process like for you? Do you have any tips for seniors struggling to make their decision?