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College Corner: Choosing the right college

CollegeCorner1
[/media-credit] Academic advisor Michelle Warkentin writes a monthly column called College Corner. This month she discusses college choices acceptance letters.
April 1 is just around the corner, the deadline for many institutions to inform students of their acceptance or denial. This is the time of year seniors can’t get to the mailbox fast enough in hopes of finding a letter in the mail whose first sentence. Congratulations, we are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted to. …

If you have not yet received notification from your college of choice by April 1 you can check on their website to see when their admission notifications are sent out. For example, many private universities have a rolling decision which means there is no specific deadline and is determined by the date you applied.

For UCs and the majority of CSUs the notification deadline is March 31 and students must respond with their decision by May 1. It is also important to inform schools that you have been accepted to but will not be attending as soon as possible so the spot can be opened up for someone else.

For students who are fortunate enough to be accepted to several of their top choice colleges, the final decision may be a difficult one. There are several factors that come into play that you may not have considered when applying:

Are you going to be able to afford these options?

Now that your FAFSA is complete and you have been informed of the amount of financial aid your family is eligible to receive. Unfortunately money is a determining factor, and trying to pay off college debt once starting a career and family can be a huge burden.

Compare your financial aid offers from the different schools to see which one best fulfills your financial need. Some of the more expensive colleges offer large merit based scholarships making them just as affordable as those with lower sticker prices.

Which of these colleges best fits your values, interests, and personality?

College is an exciting time for building relationships and developing yourself into the person you aspire to become. It is important to attend a college that will cultivate your interests and help you pursue your future goals. I strongly recommend that you visit your college of interest before deciding to go there. A website can only convey a limited amount of information about their campus. They are also only going to show you their best features, wouldn?t you rather know the good, the bad and the ugly before committing to four years of your life.

Which college is going to take you where you want to go?

Although most 18 year-olds do not know exactly what they want to do in the future, they usually have a general idea. Do they have majors specifically related to your field of interest? If the answer is yes, talk to professors in this department and even current students or those who have recently graduated from it (they will give you an honest answer).

“Give extra consideration to a school whose faculty members are still actively engaged with employers in a given field, as this can open doors to internships, research opportunities and jobs,” says Bob Roth, author of College Success: Advice for Parents of High School and College Students.

The easiest way to make the decision is to compare the schools side by side on all aspects and see which one has more of the qualities you are looking for (especially in the areas that matter most).

“Make an extended list of pros and cons,” advises adolescent psychologist¬†Jerry Weichman. “Identify several aspects of college life, the size of the school, for instance, or the strength of the athletic program and numerically rank each by importance to you.”

And most importantly, pray about it. The Lord will direct your path. “You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory,” the writer to the Psalms in 73:24 says.

Follow The Feather via Twitter: @thefeather.

For more opinions, read the March 18 article, EDITORIAL: Make each moment count.

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