There is a variety of feelings that candidates may experience after they receive their final college responses: pride, excitement, anticipation, disappointment, numbness. But in the following week, one feeling dominates in particular: relief that the process is finally over. In the few weeks after that, however, there is a sneaking realization that more decisions need to be made and preparations begun before the journey can actually start.
The good news is that I will continue doing my best to present the pertinent issues to you clearly and engagingly. The better news is that if you are a college admit, these decisions foreshadow a golden summer – the best of your life so far: a final period in which you face no real responsibilities or worries.
Over the coming weeks, I will dive in-depth into each of the following topics. For now, focus on the key points that should inform your decision-making.
So you have a general idea of what is important to you. But, as other people begin to weigh in on what school you should pick, you realize that there is so much more at stake than “choosing somewhere with good weather”.
When I was trying to decide between colleges, my dad gave me some very helpful advice: use a “matchstick method”. First, I made a list of the key attributes that were important to me. Then, I weighted those factors. Finally, using matchsticks, I scored each college (out of the assigned weighting). When I counted total matchsticks, I had found my college! Now obviously you can use a fancy excel sheet (see below), a disposable napkin, or anything other than match sticks, but I had a lot of fun doing it this way and was genuinely surprised by the result in the end.
|Factor||Weight||College 1||College 2||College 3|
Table 1: Example of the “matchstick method” at work
Below, I have broken down most of the considerations behind selecting a college. Browsing through the questions should help you to figure out what factors are important to you.
Key Takeaway: Choosing a school with the best academics may not always be the right choice for you. As an international, you will also be coping with new classes, different teaching styles and unfamiliar study methods. Make sure you think carefully about what you can handle before selecting a school for its academics only.
Key Takeaway: Selecting a college for athletics is largely dependent on how important the team will be to other parts of your life. Some teammates are best friends, get housed together on campus and join the same fraternities/ sororities. Other teams just train together. Try to meet the team or speak to a past/ current athlete to get a sense of how a particular college matches your preferences.
3. Student Life
6. Student body
The best way to answer some of these questions is to talk to past students or to visit campus. If you visit, make sure to let the university know so that they can welcome you and put you in touch with the right people. Reach out to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you don’t know any alumni and want help getting in touch with someone. If you call the universities, they will usually be very accommodating with finding students for you to ask questions. And, of course, you can find information on their official websites or blogs like College Confidential.
This portion is especially relevant for international admits. Take care of immigration early since the visa process can have many unforeseen delays!
2. Financial Aid
Final Note: Don’t forget to contact the colleges you are not attending. While this is not completely necessary, it’s a really nice gesture – remember that there are other students anxiously sitting on the waiting list, hoping to receive your spot at this school.
There is a lot to consider when preparing to move into a dorm for the first time. Start thinking about whether you want a roommate, what you need to purchase in terms of clothing, furniture and essentials, how far in advance you should fly up to school, what computer you should use, what meal plan you should get, how much you should spend. More to come in my next post!