Accepted? Tips to Help You Shorten Your College List
Some of you may have smiles on your faces as letters and online notices of acceptances to college start coming.
Remember the first time you made your college list?
If you were wise when you made your college list, you might have considered:
- Academics–Does this school have what I want to study? Can it accommodate me if I change my mind?
- Chances of acceptance–Has this school admitted similar students?
- Location–Close or far from home? Urban, rural or college town setting?
- Student body size–Small or large?
- Chances of receiving merit or need-based aid–Will I be able to cut my costs?
Keep in mind your past answers to these questions as you whittle your short list down to one. There might already be one school on your college list that has all your “musts” that is also affordable.
But what if it’s between two or three schools? Here are some considerations.
- If you’ve been awarded a scholarship, is it automatically renewable?
- If yes, what is the GPA you will need to maintain it? For some schools, it’s a 3.0, others a 3.25, but I’ve heard of schools that expect better.
- Can you limit borrowing to $5,500? This is the maximum that a freshman may borrow through the Federal Stafford Loan program. You and your student do not want to borrow more if you can avoid it.
- If you received a Work-Study award, how many hours are you expected to work? It’s better to work no more than 15 hours a week during the freshman year. The academic workload is far greater than high school, the learning process is different, too.
- Is it possible to live on campus for at least the first two years? At smaller schools this is no problem. At larger ones you’ll see students move off campus immediately after the freshman year. Local landlords seek tenants for the next year as soon as the current year starts. Students need time to make friends before deciding where they want to live a year later.
- Will you live a residence hall with other freshmen or be mixed with freshmen and upper-class students? Some schools want all freshmen to live together to develop friendships and bond as a class. Others prefer a mix so that incoming students can meet continuing students who already know what’s going on.
- Can you participate in a Living-Learning community around a personal interest or your intended major? This helps students form friendships and get help with difficult classes.
- Can you find work in your intended field during the summer and possibly the school year, or can you get to work easily from campus? Some schools, Ohio State is a good example, are in cities that are great places to knock on doors. Others such as Penn State are in more isolated locations; you’re more likely to rent a place near work or go home for the summer.
- Can you walk or bike everywhere you need to go or will you need to rely on busses to get around?
- Can you bring a car to school?
- If yes, is parking close by or far away?
- How easy/difficult is it to get a ride home during breaks or the school year?
- How expensive will it be?
- Does this school have a strong network near home and in the place(s) that you are most likely to live after you graduate?
These are not the only questions you might want to answer as you whittle that college list down to your chosen school, but it’s a good start. I welcome readers to add any possible questions that I might have missed.