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Elise Gout

Narrowing Down Your College Acceptances

If you are reading this post, you deserve a huge congratulations! You’ve been accepted into more than one college, and regardless of what those schools are, it’s an accomplishment to be proud of.


In a funny way, once you are accepted by multiple institutions, the college applications process seems to nearly repeat itself; much like how you had to decide where it was right for you to apply, you now have to determine where it is right for you to attend. This will undoubtedly lead you to reviewing the colleges’ websites all over again, and may very well re-spark some of those previous feelings of anxiousness, doubt, and stress. Considering how daunting decision time can be, here are some pointers to (hopefully) make it less so.


1. Understand your financial aid packages

One of the key pieces of information you will have now that you are accepted is what kind of financial support the institution is prepared to offer you. It’s no secret that college can get expensive fast, and understanding the kind of education you are getting for your specified price tag is a factor really worth considering not only on your own, but also with your parents/guardians. In the mean time, keep in mind that the financial aid packet for you and your family may come a couple weeks after your acceptance letter.


2. Try to visit (or visit again)

It’s far from unusual to apply to schools without having visited them. If that’s the case for you, see if it’s feasible to experience the campus and the atmosphere in person. I truly believe there is no better way to get a sense of a school – and determine whether or not it’s a good fit. Tours can still be helpful at this stage in the process, but considering you may already know a fair amount of the info they would say (you probably did, after all, have some knowledge fueling your desire to apply there), independent wandering can prove equally effective.

If you have already toured a school that you’ve been accepted into, it can still be extremely helpful to re-visit, especially if quite a lot of time has passed since you were last there. You may find that your preferences have changed over the past few months (completely normal), or that, now that attending is a realistic option, you just can’t quite commit to living there for four years. In any case, a good refresher of how you feel at the school can never be detrimental to shaping your decision.


3. Reach out to attending students


Props to you if you’ve already done this during the application period. If you didn’t (you were too busy, didn’t think of it, felt too shy or uncomfortable) – now is the perfect opportunity! From what I’ve seen, college students tend to be a lot more honest and verbose about their opinions on their schools when you tell them you’ve been accepted there and are highly considering attending.

Simply asking around your high school, talking to teachers and peers, can be a great and easy way to find everyday people who are/were at the college you’re looking at. When I say everyday people, I mean those who aren’t necessarily in charge of the designated Facebook group or helping at orientation. While people like that can be great resources, they will also have primarily positive things to say, and it’s important to hear a variety of opinions from a variety of students.


4. Delve into the fine details

As much as you may know about the schools you’ve been accepted to, it’s really worth revisiting all of the info that you have collected – and then going out and gathering more. Start digging into the nitty-gritty, investigating things like the dorm food, the housing options, the reputation of the professors. As previously mentioned, there will probably have been social media groups created at this point for your prospective class; engage in those platforms and use them to ask all kinds of questions. Perhaps most of all, compare each school’s department(s) of the field(s) you’re considering. Not all archeology, biology, literature, math programs are taught and designed alike.

In the end, it’s important to realize that the decision before you is an exciting one. You have the incredible privilege of not only pursuing higher education, but also having some degree of influence in where you do said pursuing. As afraid as you may be right now about making the “wrong choice,” know that, for a whole lot of other high school seniors before you, things had a wonderful way of working themselves out.


About Elise Gout

Elise writes articles for the Magoosh SAT blog to help teenagers during an exciting time in their lives. Despite residing in Southern California, where she attends San Dieguito Academy high school, she has no surfing abilities whatsoever; it’s actually rather sad. She is your typical senior high school girl who sword fights daily, and is pretty much convinced that bananas are a food sent from heaven. Elise will attend Columbia University next fall to study environmental science.

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