Making that college decision by May 1 is one of the most important deadlines to remember. It has been a whirlwind up to this point — applications, essays, campus visits, research, and those long SAT’s or ACT’s. Nothing feels more right than to finally put your feet up and take a break, after all, you have worked hard to get here! But unfortunately, there is no time to rest for the weary. It’s decision time and it’s an enormous decision!
This is the time of year when colleges and universities are waiting on you! But even though they are waiting, they only allow a specified amount of time before those coveted spots are released for others seeking a college to call home.
The May 1 deadline, also known as National Deposit Day to some, is the official day by which current seniors must make up their minds on where they plan to enroll. Sounds easy, right? It is a difficult decision for many and unless you are prepared it can become more stressful than getting admitted.
Here are a few things to consider to assist in making this a “no-regret” decision.
- Like any large purchase, cost is a major factor — take a look at the money. Hopefully by this point you and your family have completed the FAFSA. Be sure to know when the Financial Aid Application deadline is at each school on your “make a decision” list. It is important not to make a decision based on the “sticker price” because any financial aid – (grants, loans, scholarships, etc.) will offset this bottom line. Be on the lookout for the college to provide you with a Financial Aid Award Letter soon!
- When it comes to the things you love most, how does the college measure up against those things that interest you? Whether it be hiking, snow-skiing nearby, certain clubs or organizations on or off campus, shopping, fishing or the such — look more in-depth than just the surface into how the college can satisfy this need.
- If you are confident on your academic focus, how does the colleges compare as it relates to their program’s reputation, quality and outcomes? It would be super if all programs were equal, but they are not. Do as much insightful research into the programs as possible — it’s amazing how much you’ll come to learn.
- Did I mention opportunities? Opportunities to engage with professors and the community are critical to building your readiness for the “real-world” with experience through internships or by volunteering.
- Consider the Big Picture! When you take a look at the big picture, it is likely no one school will fit everything on your wish list perfectly. Take a look at the big picture to see what is most important, what weighs more or less and apply those things to what value would be added to both your personal and professional growth.