I’d like to provide some advice to all high school juniors out there: Relax. You have a year before you need to make a final college decision. This year’s seniors are currently engaged in that struggle. They have taken the tests, done their academic work, written their essays, submitted their applications, and waited the requisite months. They now know who wants them…Now the shoe’s on the other foot!
If last year’s data holds true, about 35% of our seniors will select a different college than they thought at the time which they applied in November of their senior year. That’s more than one out of three, and it happens to many of those who think they are most certain. This is actually a very good sign that a student is making a well-informed, systematic decision. Here’s why:
1. Options. I tell my students that it’s all about options at the END of the process. I’d like students to gain admission to 4-5 schools (some are admitted to all 8 to which they’ve applied). This allows you to view your college choice as a process, not a decision. And chances are, you’ll make a better final decision in the Spring of your senior year, than you would in October.
2. Having options allows you to weigh financial aid and scholarship options. With many colleges hitting the $60,000/year mark, this is more important than ever. I’m seeing more and more families opting for the less expensive, less prestigious school because they received significant scholarship or aid money.
3. Waiting until Spring allows you the opportunity to re-visit the top 3 schools to which you’ve gained admission. These programs, often called, “Admitted Student Days,” enable you to evaluate the school in a different way. You’re now admitted, so worrying about if they will accept you is off the table. More importantly, it may have been a full year since you last visited the campus – or maybe you haven’t visited at all – so this gives you a clearer picture of what you like and don’t like about the school.
So for current high school juniors, my message is: Relax. You’ve got plenty of time to make your decision. Take your time, visit more schools over the next 5 months, and let the process unfold. Make sure you have options at the end, and you’ll make a great choice!