With less than two weeks to go before the early decision deadline, high school seniors and their parents, guardians, and other caring folks in their midst can get frantic. The whole process seems so daunting.
Here is some unsolicited advice that I hope will help.
- Breathe. Do some yoga stretches. Take a walk. Go out for ice cream. Get away from the topic for a few minutes. Find something to laugh about. As the college whisperer says, it’s not the end of the world.
- Students: List the ten top reasons you want to go to college.
- Others: List the ten top reasons you want this high school senior to go to college.
- Now sit down and talk about them. Are there differences? Where are the similarities?
Students: Take your list of schools and return to some of the basic questions:
- What have you liked about school so far in your life? Look at your list of schools. Can you do those things there?
- Do you think you will fare better at a small school (with a few hundred incoming students) or a big school (with a few thousand incoming students)? (In a small school, you may get to know everyone and in a big school, you will have a much bigger network upon graduation. At both types, you will be able to get to know faculty because they are there for you!)
- Do you want to be in a city, a suburb, or a rural setting?
- Do you have particular academic interests? Non-academic interests? If so, what are they? Can you pursue those at each of these schools?
- Do your GPA and scores fall in the range of the averages for the schools on your list?
- How much can you spend per year without financial aid? Have you calculated your net price at the schools that interest you? Can you afford them?
- Do you have special interests or needs? If so, can each of the colleges on your list meet them?
- Now take a look at your list. Has it changed?
- Based on all of that information, apply to a college by the early decision/action deadline! Many schools I know admit half of their students during this part of the admission cycles, and your odds of getting in are much better during early decision/action. But be sure you want to go there if they admit you. If you are admitted early decision, then your process is over, and that is the institution whose name will grace your resume forever (unless you transfer, of course).
- Ignore the hoopla and listen to your gut. Breathe more. Do more yoga. Eat more brown rice or ice cream or whatever works for you. Take more walks. Sleep a lot. You are preparing for one of the biggest transitions of your life.
- Don’t ignore the possibility that a gap year might be best. This is the time to decide. As I have written in another post, a gap year has untold benefits….
- Students: Tell your parents, guardians, and other loved ones how much you love them, and thank them for all their support in the past 18 years.
- Parents, guardians, and other loved ones: Tell your high school senior how much you love and admire them and will continue to support them in the coming four years and beyond.
I wish you all good luck and good fortune and a life full of joy and laughter.