I have been telling seniors and parents what they should be doing as they make their final college choice for years. This year, I find myself in new territory. Here are some tips for those seniors who are still trying to decide—with a few Covid-19 tweaks.
1. Take the time to make a list of pros/cons. Old school.
Time is running out! Oh jeez. What to do? The message from colleges and universities right now is one of grace and flexibility. If you need more time to decide, many colleges have extended the decision date to June 1. Even if they haven’t, you can ask for an extension. Grace and flexibility.
2. Do it by yourself and for yourself. Approach this decision from your heart. Don’t let what others may think about your choice influence you at this point. Maybe the Notre Dame bumper sticker would be cool, but your heart is leading you to a school that is not quite as well known. You know where you belong.
3. Be realistic about money. Hopefully, your family had the money talk a long time ago. Really think about finances and debt. Every family is different, and this is a very personal issue. Sometimes choices must be made because of money.
If your family’s financial situation has changed significantly in the past few months—or you expect it will—contact the college financial aid offices and talk to a human! Most schools have special conditions/special circumstances processes that may impact the amount of financial aid available. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
4. Don’t follow your girlfriend or boyfriend. Just don’t.
I’m throwing friends into that category as well. This year, the sentimental feelings seniors have is amplified. School ended with no goodbyes. It hurts and there is an even greater desire to stay close to friends and familiar things. I get it.
5. Remember—you can also come home. If your choice is between the school down the street or the one hundreds of miles away—consider taking a chance and facing the fears you may have about going somewhere new. If you go and it doesn’t work out, you can come home. If you don’t, you’ll never know. Alert: stay a full year. DO NOT COME HOME AFTER ONE SEMESTER.
Play the long game. Don’t worry about whether your college of choice will be meeting virtually in the fall. I know that sounds short-sighted, but this will pass. College campuses will always be a little different (face masks, no handshakes, more Zoom meetings-ugh), but they will reopen. You will live in a residence hall, sit in a class, eat in a cafeteria, work in a lab, and go to a game. Just remember that and don’t change your long-term plans for a short-term reason.
6. Get back on campus if possible. Admitted student days, overnight visits, or a quick walk around the campus again can help clarify things.
Obviously, this isn’t happening. I am really impressed with all the virtual tours, information sessions, student social media pages, etc. that have been created by colleges and universities in such short order. Take advantage of them.
7. Once you decide. Own it. Celebrate it. Buy the swag. That bumper sticker looks good on your Mom’s old Camry!!!