Decisions, Decisions, Decisions – Decision Day is around the corner
By Tracy Wright
Your student has applied to a list of colleges and universities. The acceptance letters are rolling in. Congratulations!
The question of “Will I get in?” has been answered, but now a whole new question has presented itself, “Where should I go?”
The college they choose will have a big impact on their success in school. To choose a university that fits their needs well, they first need to figure out what is important to them.
What do they want?
The basic criteria they should consider are location, size and cost.
Location — geography
- Are they ready to live in a part of the country that is completely different from where they live now?
- Is it important for them to go to school within a day’s drive of home so you don’t have to incur the cost of a flight in case of an emergency?
Location — setting
- Is it important for them to have cultural experiences outside of university life? Are they always eager to see the latest live show or enjoy great nightlife? (Think city!)
- Do they love the outdoors, and want access to outdoor sports and trails? (Think rural areas!)
- Are they used to a large high school or a small one?
- Do they prefer it when everyone knows them and they know everyone? Or do they like having anonymity and the opportunity to meet new people every day?
- Size also affects student-teacher ratio. Do they learn best with more individualized attention?
- Large universities tend to have more of everything — more classes, more activities and more student services.
- Cost can be a weighty determining factor in choosing a college. Did they receive any scholarships?
- What is the yearly tuition without factoring in scholarships or grants?
- What are the financial aid options available to them?
- How much student debt are you comfortable with them taking on?
Think about how they will move (and what will be moved) when choosing a location. Also think about how different it would be from your current atmosphere.
Striking a balance between new and familiar is ideal — otherwise
20 Things to Know
While making the school decision is the most important to make, here are points to keep in mind.
Every student who attends a university desires a “successful” college experience. While successful means different things to different people, there are certain pieces of advice that are universal.
Here is what should be known.
- The television lied. Dorm rooms are nothing like Dawson’s Creek and Gilmore Girls. They are more like matchstick boxes with scary use of vertical space.
- Always get the warranty. Even if you think you won’t need it. You probably will.
- Cheating isn’t worth the risk. This applies to tests and relationships. You will get caught. Also, the instinct to cheat is telling you something. Listen.
- Food is expensive. All food. Be forewarned. Use the meal plan.
- You will have no money. You have no idea how much living with your parents saves you.
- Learning where the “specials” are can fund your social life. Figure out where the food specials are in town and make the rounds for at least half the cost.
- You have the time. Everyone has to manage their time. It’s all in how you use it. Own how you choose to use your time. It’s a life skill.
- Avoid extensions. They breed laziness. Plus, procrastinators will always procrastinate, no matter the deadline.
- You will get lonely.
- You will get bored.
- You don’t have to buy all your books. Learn which books to buy and which to borrow or rent.
- Don’t fully depend on your advisor. Ultimately, it’s up to you to fully understand where you are in your program.
- Go to the review sessions. This is where professors reveal what you should focus on (read: what will be on the exam).
- Plan communication with your parents. Set up a weekly time to chat so they can catch up on your college life.
- Companies are already looking at you. Keep this in mind as you post about Friday night on social media.
- Don’t be one of those students whose parents fund their entire existence. Find a job to at least make your own spending money.
- A scholarship is like a job. Athletic, academic — it doesn’t matter. Treat it with the respect it deserves.
- Study abroad if at all possible.
- University health centers are one of the best healthcare options for the price. Take advantage of $6 teeth cleanings while you have them.
- Get to the gym. You won’t want to. You will make excuses. But you have access to state-of-the-art equipment that, once you’ve graduated, you won’t have without an expensive gym membership.