Tips For Choosing the Best Fit College
Once you are given a decision from all of the colleges you applied to, the fun begins! Choosing the best fit college for you is an important decision with plenty of aspects to keep in mind during the process.
Consider Financial Aid and Cost of Attendance
If colleges determine that you and your family qualify to receive financial aid, they will provide you with a comprehensive financial aid package within days of notifying you of your acceptance. If you are eligible for financial aid, it is critical to take the time to consider the overall value of each school’s package thoroughly. Depending on the reputation of the school and program you are considering, often times the financial aid award is simply not enough to make attending that particular school a better deal than going elsewhere instead.
For any questions related to financial aid, contact the college’s financial aid department to speak with a representative. If you are passionate about attending a particular college, yet you feel their financial aid package does not accommodate your needs, call the financial aid office and attempt to negotiate more money off while reiterating your passion for attending the school. There are no guarantees, but it certainly does not hurt to try.
It is also important to consider how current students afford their college experience. If the school is located in a more expensive metropolitan area, how do students afford the high costs associated with living there? What types of student employment opportunities exist?
CollegeVine strongly suggests speaking with student employees in the financial aid office. These students are most likely on financial aid themselves and can offer you insight into the financial aid landscape year after year, and how they continue to afford their experience. Meetings can be organized over the phone or in person if you decide to visit again.
Revisit Your Research & Essays
Choosing where to spend the next four years learning and growing is no easy decision, and certainly takes some soul searching. A great way to remind yourself of the reasons you chose to apply to certain schools in the first place is to revisit your research and college essays.
Take the time to look through the notes and literature you accumulated from each college and reflect. Take the time to internalize all that you feel the school can offer you and whether you can visualize yourself on campus, content, making an impact and getting the most you can out of college. If you get positive feelings and vibes while considering a particular school, that is a great sign!
Visit Again, if Possible
It never hurts to give a college a first or even a second visit before putting down a tuition deposit. Visiting in person can help you get a feel for daily life on campus and to learn more about the school through tours and meetings with faculty members and students that you would not discover otherwise.
If you are on the fence about a school, a visit can provide you the clarity needed to make a sound final decision. It can be costly to visit schools if you live far out of state. But if you live within a reasonable distance of a school, definitely give it a visit, even for only an afternoon. For more information regarding visiting colleges, check out our post Parents: Here’s How Your Student Could Visit a College for Free.
Talk it Over with Your Family and College Counselor/Mentor
Talking out your potential decisions with those whose opinions and perspectives you value can offer you fresh insight into how to weigh your options. Consider people’s opinions or past experience with a particular school, or ask what type of school they feel you would thrive best at.
While outside advice from people who know you is very important to consider, at the same time, do not let it sway you if you are strongly leaning toward a different direction. Most importantly, stay true to yourself during this process. Ultimately, these next four years are yours for the taking.
For additional resources for college decisions and the end of 12th grade, feel free to check out our posts After College Decisions: What 12th Graders Need to Do Now and Parents: Should Your Student Participate in an Overnight Admission Visit?