Make a list. “I made a list of pros and cons,” says Erin, a senior year university student. If you’re a logical person or a left-brain thinker, this will help you out a lot. Making lists allows you to look at hard facts and figures, but it also allows you to visualize information. Once you’ve made your list, talk it over with people you trust. “After I made a list, I went over pros and cons of the two schools with my family,” says Ally, another campus senior.
Outline your priorities. You’ve made your list of pros and cons, but the schools are still pretty much tied. Choose your top three to five priorities and see how your schools weigh in. “I cared most about the campus/location, academic programs and the student culture. Both schools I was interested in had great academics, so it came down to a decision of where I thought I’d be happiest socially,” explains Ally.
Be chatty. If you’re unsure of your decision, start talking to people. Talk to friends who are in college to see what they think about their decision. Have honest discussions with your parents about topics like financial aid. Email current students who share your academic interests to learn more about specific programs. Mary Waller, a campus freshman, says, “I emailed students and professors in departments I was interested in.” She also talked to her parents and older friends about the two schools. She encourages you to “talk to people who are enthusiastic about their colleges about why they love them so much. You might even be surprised by what some people love and think, “Wow, I would hate that.'”
Go to admitted students days or stay overnight with a current student. Oftentimes, these events will permit you to talk with current students and attend some classes. Some schools offer overnight programs where you stay with student ambassadors, but you may need to contact a friend at the school you want to visit. “Try an overnight visit with someone you know. I had a blast when I stayed with my friend at Bentley, but it still wasn’t enough for me to want to go there, which definitely said something for me. Going to the accepted students days for the schools I was considering was a make-or-break-it moment for me. Seeing how poor one school’s was in comparison to another’s said something to me,” suggests Erin.
Compare programs. It’s easy to get caught up in the size of dorm rooms, student life, and where your friends are going. But remember what you’re going to college for – to study so you can eventually get a job in the field you want. “I’m a communications major, and I actually overlooked how great the campus’s School of Communications is at first,” says Erin. “I was more concerned about the atmosphere and vibe, which is definitely important, but never forget to assess how it will benefit your education and really look into the opportunities some colleges provide over others.”
Scholarship money. Sure, you need to be able to afford university, but consider this: schools that are offering you scholarship money probably want you to be there. They’ve noticed your passion for volunteering, impressive academic record, or commitment to fill-in-the-blank extracurricular and think you’d be an excellent fit at their school. Not only that, but Mary reasons: “If a college is willing to pay you to come, chances are they are going to be willing to work with you when you want to get stuff done.”
Flip a coin. It sounds silly, but when that coin is in the air you’ll know which side you’re hoping it lands on. “When it came down to my final 2, I flipped a coin and pretended if it landed on heads I HAD to go to X school and if it landed on tails then I HAD to go to Y school,” explains Alexa, a sophomore student. “It’s a good test on your feelings and to see how disappointed or pleased you are if that was your final decision.”
Go with your gut. “In my heart, I knew I would be disappointed if I didn’t accept the campus I’m at now. I felt more at home there. It didn’t come down to a practical pro/con list,” says Kristen, a sophomore at McGill. Too many cooks in the kitchen ruin the soup, and too many opinions from outsiders will ruin the decision-making process for the pre-collegiette. Talk this over with just a few close family members and friends who will help you make an informed decision.