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What college do I choose?


The period of time between college acceptance and college decision is usually one of great soul searching. By the time Decision Day (May 1st) rolls around, you will need to pick a school that is the “best fit” for you on many levels.


One piece of advice that I have shared with many students: Don’t choose a college based solely on “prestige,” selectivity, or U.S. News and World Reports rankings. These data change over time, and the colleges that are “trending” today may not be the go-to schools of tomorrow. Rather, choose a college where you will be encouraged to grow, both academically and socially. To help you make your decision, consider the following three areas:

  1. Academic fit. Does your school offers the major or minor that you’re interested in? Are the programs and classes impacted (overly crowded and difficult to get into?) You should also look at the faculty at each school. Do they have experience in your field of interest? What kind of research opportunities are available? Are most students at this college able to complete their degree in 4 years?

  2. Social Fit. How well does the culture of that college mesh with you? The best way to decide this is by doing an overnight visit. The Admissions office can help you with this. I like these visits better than the “accepted freshman welcome day” special events that are scheduled with a lot of hoopla. A campus overnight gives you a look at what a typical day is like. While you are there, attend classes that interest you, speak with professors, get a sense of the student body, eat in the dining halls, and really try to envision yourself as a part of the community. Your choice will become clear. If you can’t make a visit to campus, talk to kids who attend the college from your city or high school. Ask them about what makes the college a good fit for them.

  3. Financial fit. College has to make sense in terms of dollars and cents. But you won’t know this final piece until you have received the student aid report from each college. At that point, you can compare and make the best financial decision.

On the practical side, there’s no better substitute for a “Pros and Cons” list for each college. Factor in such important things as your financial aid package, distance, availability of intended major, social culture of the school, safety, and more. When you have this info in front of you, it’s easier to see what each college really offers you. Depending on what is most important to you, you may have an easier time of making a final decision.


Good luck with your decision, and please contact me if you need advice.


Samantha Walravens


Ivy Insights College Consulting

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