Final College Choice
If students are admitted to more than one college or university, they must choose one school to accept and attend. A student can accept one school and also accept a place on another school’s waitlist.
Some considerations in making this decision are:
- Overall Considerations
- Quality of the Department/Major
- Quality of Pre-Professional Program Advising (if applicable)
- Financial Aid Packages
Students should look at the overall picture of each school. Do they have strong alumni networks? What kind of monetary resources does each school have to devote to its students? How easy will it be for the student to get personal attention at each school? What are the availability of internships and research opportunities? Some schools have entire offices devoted to helping students with internships either during the school year or in the summer. What percentage of students participate in internships and/or research? What are the location implications of each school? What are the size implications and campus type of each school? What sort of career placement services does each school offer? Students should also factor in any other considerations that matter to them such as school spirit, housing options, or distance from home. If a student is having trouble choosing between schools, he or she should consider visiting or revisiting a school during an admitted students weekend, which are frequently held in April.
Quality of the Department/Major
Students should examine and compare the quality of the department in which they wish to major at each school. This can be done by examining the department’s web page, visiting and possibly phoning or emailing professors with specific questions. The student should look at four things:
Compare the scope of the departments. Look through the course catalogue to see what classes are offered and how frequently. Do the departments tend to be traditional or alternative? Is the department focused on certain areas of the major?
Compare the professors. Look at the professors’ personal websites and examine their curriculum vitae’s (resume) on the college website. Where were they educated and what have they done or published since then. What areas do they focus on in their teaching, research and publications.
Compare the “life of the departments.” Does the department support the students beyond offering classes? Is there a department colloquium, a review, a symposium? Is there some information suggesting what students should be doing over the summer? Does the department arrange internships for the students? Is there a sense of camaraderie? The student can tell a lot of this by carefully reviewing the department website. Is there more to the department than just going to class?
Compare the departments’ values about graduate versus undergraduate students. If the school has graduate students, is the focus on them or does energy go to the undergraduates too? Do the undergraduates have research and publication opportunities?
Quality of the Pre-Professional Advising Program
If applicable, look at the quality of each school’s pre-professional advising program. Does the college have counselors to help guide pre-law, pre-med, pre-vet, pre-business, etc.....students through their undergraduate years with advice on course selection, standardized test (LSAT, MCAT..) preparation, the professional school application process, internships, recommendations, summer programs, professional school admissions fairs...? What does the pre-professional advising department say they are going to do for students? Are the advisors certified in their respective areas? What programs, services, and personal support are offered? What is each college’s success rate at getting students admitted to law school , medical school...? Do note that professional school admission rates have been manipulated by some colleges.
Financial Aid Packages
Students should carefully compare the financial aid packages offered by each college. Do the packages differ in amount, in percentage of grants versus loans versus work study? Do the packages include merit scholarships? If one college’s financial aid offer is more generous, the student should graciously contact the financial aid offices at the other schools to see if they will match the more generous offer. The student should also let all of the colleges know of any significant changes in the family’s finances, such as a parent’s job loss, that have occurred since the student applied for financial aid.
Many factors play into the choice of which school to accept and attend. Students should compare the quality of the college experience at each school beyond just name, size, and location. The student should send in his or her acceptance and admissions deposit by the college’s deadline. However, some honors and sports programs will require an earlier commitment for you to secure your place. If the student is accepting a place on a college’s waitlist, he or she must also accept an admission offer from one of his or her other colleges.