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College Admissions: Deciding Where to Attend

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Hopefully you did your homework before you decided which colleges to apply to. Whether you applied to three schools or nine schools, every school on your list was a good academic match. It had the programs that interest you and top-notch professors. My point is that you did the intellectual decision-making at the time of application. That means you have all good choices!

This is the week when I get a lot of calls from students and parents asking for help choosing between great options. My advice is pretty consistent. Eliminate all options that are not within your financial comfort zone. Now narrow the remaining options to three. Your criteria could be financial or geographic or any other reason that makes sense to you. Try to reduce the scope of your decision to three choices by April 1. Three seems to be a reasonable number that most psyches can juggle.

Now is the hard part for all my brilliant students to hear. It's no longer an intellectual decision. You are picking between three options that all make sense, and you need to trust your gut instinct. If you can visit each of the three, that is optimal (even if you saw them before), but I realize that is not possible for every student. Since you are making a decision that includes social, emotional, and cultural criteria, now is the time to use subjective tools. Join the Facebook group for admitted students. Chat with current students on College Confidential. Imagine your prospective peers as your future best friends. Spend a night in the dorms. Sit in on a class. Talk with a professor. (If you can't do that in person, ask one to Skype with you.) Do you feel valued? Picture yourself there and happy for the next four years. Your college experience will be as fabulous as you make it, so listen to your heart and pick the community that feels right!

Jodi Walder-Biesanz is the founder of Portland, Oregon-based College Admission Coach LLC, which helps students identify and gain admission to right-fit schools where they will thrive academically and personally. Contact her at [email protected].


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