February 13, 2024

You’ve Been Accepted to College! Now What?

After months of college research, campus visits, writing essays, and completing applications, admission decisions have started rolling in.  Seniors should feel a sense of relief knowing they have several options for the Fall. However, when students receive acceptance letters from multiple schools, they might begin to feel overwhelmed and scared the decision they make will be the wrong one.

The stress can seem enormous (especially this year with the delay of financial aid information), but it isn’t insurmountable. Having gone through this problem with countless students at Class 101 and my daughter, I recommend a few things to help students make a decision.

Review your college research

Back in 2023, students spend countless hours researching the academics and student life at each college they applied to. Go back to those notes and review what you liked and didn’t like about each school you have been accepted to. And yes, there is always something not to like – no college is perfect. Did they have the exact academic program you liked? Were the dining options suitable for you? Did they have clubs and organizations you were interested in getting involved with? What were your impression after taking the virtual tour (or the in-person campus visit)? I find most kids have preferred schools after research (even if they don’t want to say it out loud) – go back and see which were yours.

Campus Visits/Admitted Student Days

First, if you were not able to see all the schools you have been accepted to, it is worth going to see them now. Until you have stepped foot on campus, it is truly hard to get the vibe of a campus. Trust me, this is real and a very important factor (it changed my daughter’s top choice school). Colleges often have Admitted Student Days which are what I like to call the “Four Seasons of college visits”. These days are often much longer than a traditional campus tour and provide students a deeper insight to what college life is like at that particular schools.

Even if you have been on campus before, I strongly recommend students go back to their top 2-3 schools. A follow-up visit can give students a chance to further explore the place they could call home for four years. It can help them dive deeper than they did on their first visits, engaging with the campus, classes, and surrounding community. A second visit provides the opportunity to see if they like the student culture and atmosphere of campus. Mingling with others on campus can help them with indecision. Through their experiences, students can ask themselves, “Do I see myself here?”

If they know what they want to major in, I suggest students visit with departments in their area(s) of interest. Through one-on-one meetings with faculty, students can compare what their options offer in terms of classes, facilities, as well as internship or research opportunities. Sitting in on a class is a great way to experience what it might be like as a student. They can also see if they like the professors and fit in with the school’s overall culture.

Evaluate Financial Costs

College is expensive, and the financial cost is a large factor for many families. Unfortunately with the delay of financial aid details until April, this may seem like an impossible evaluation to do, but there are several pieces of information to look at. First, start with the actual cost from the 2023-2024 school year and add an estimated 2-3% increase for next year.  Second, look at the merit scholarship(s) received and deduct that from the estimated cost. Many schools provide scholarship information with or shortly thereafter acceptance decisions are released. Lastly, utilize the financial aid simulator to estimate what, if any, financial aid you may be eligible for. Remember this analysis will be an estimate and should be compared with the final financial aid award letters in April. Once received, it it may be beneficial to sit down with a financial aid representative at the college to discuss options for additional merit scholarships or financial aid in person. Don’t be afraid to ask your top school for additional scholarship money.  It may not work, but there is no risk in asking.

 

Most colleges do not expect a final decision from students until May 1, so students have time to make up their minds. Once a student decides not to attend a school, they should let the college know as soon as possible. Not only is this courteous, but it also frees up a spot for another student who is on a wait list, hoping for an acceptance.

The calendar to May 1 does not pause, but there is ample time for high school seniors and their families to revisit colleges’ locations and cultures, academic opportunities, and costs. At Class 101, our seniors are still working with college planners to discern the best college fit.

*******************************

At Class 101, we know navigating the college planning and admission process can be overwhelming. Our mission is to help students and families find the best college for them – academically, personally, and financially. Ready to begin your journey to college? Schedule a personalized consultation with a college advisor.

You may also be interested in

Best Kept Secret in College Admissions: Developing a Strong Resume

February 22, 2024

Best Kept Secret in College Admissions: Developing a Strong Resume

A college resume is similar to the professional resume adults use. Although most high school students have yet to hold professional jobs before graduating, if they have followed our advice, they have accrued service hours, extracurricular achievements, and maybe an internship or two. The college resume is the perfect place to highlight those experiences. The […]

Read More >
New Graduation Requirement for NJ High School Students

January 28, 2024

New Graduation Requirement for NJ High School Students

On January 16, 2024, Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill (A1181/S2054) to make completion of a financial aid application form a prerequisite to graduation for public high school and charter school students. What You Need to Know This new requirement will commence with the Class of 2025 (current high school juniors) and remain in effect […]

Read More >
New Year, New Goals.  Creating 2024 College Planning Goals

January 2, 2024

New Year, New Goals. Creating 2024 College Planning Goals

It’s a New Year! We often associate the New Year with making resolutions and goals to make ourselves better in some way for the coming year. It can be fun, and challenging, to commit to a goal and follow through. This year, we thought it would be helpful to encourage setting goals around college planning. […]

Read More >

Start planning for college today!