The Decision – How to Make the Proper College Choice

My office is receiving daily emails from colleges reminding me to inform students that by May 1st, high school seniors must notify the college of their choice of their decision. Not only should students inform the schools of their selection, they must also send their housing deposit. If a student fails to inform a school by this date, this could lead to the college no longer guaranteeing their admission. Here are a few tips for a high school senior to make a proper decision on which college to attend.

Social Fit

As an 18 year old senior in high school, it is hard to imagine making a decision that will impact the next four years of their life. The first step to make sure the school is the proper social fit. The family should have already visited the campus (see our previous blog post to learn how to properly visit a school). This on campus experience hopefully provided the student enough knowledge to make an informed decision. But can the family envision the student on campus, participating in the activities in the quad, eating in the dining halls or sleeping in the dorms rooms? If they can, this is a good sign. If they cannot, then perhaps a last minute follow-up visit to the campus might be in order.

Financial Fit

Hopefully the student has letters of admission from a plethora of schools to choose from. Reexamine each of the acceptance letters and financial aid rewards and ask yourself, “can I afford to send my son/daughter to this school?” If the answer is a clear cut yes, then compare each of the school’s finances together. Think about the programs they offer and your likes/dislikes about each school to make a proper decision. Select the school that you feel is the best fit for your child.

If there is some hesitation in affordability, here are some things to consider regarding the college:

  • How many loans will the student have to take out?
  • What are the interest rates on the loan?
  • When will your son/daughter have to begin paying these loans back?
  • What will the final amount of loans be when the student graduates in four years?
  • Can my son/daughter receive the same quality education at a school that is not their first choice, but offering more in terms of financial aid?
  • Is the scholarship they are receiving a one year scholarship or renewable for four years?
  • Will it be automatically renewed?

Eliminate Friends From Decision

Many high school seniors are afraid to leave their comfort zone. Many adults are like this too; it is only natural. Many seniors will make their college decision based upon where their friends will be attending. This is not the proper way to make a decision because with technology, students will easily be able to keep in touch. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest and email (snail mail to teenagers) are just a few such ways. Do not forget that by using the free services of Skype or Facetime, students can easily keep in touch. Students can even call each other if they are lonely, but most likely they will use those cell phones to send text messages.
With many forms of communication, students need to think for themselves, be an individual and make an adult decision. They should choose the college that best fits themselves academically, socially and financially; not those of their friends. Young adults are resilient, they will be able to find their routine by keeping in touch with their high school friends while also making a campus full of new ones.

Common Application

While I was writing my blog post, the Common Application posted this on their Facebook page. I felt it was only fitting to add this to my post:

Choosing which college to attend is an intensely personal decision, and you probably don’t want anyone second-guessing your choice once you’ve made it. Just remember it’s a two-way street. It’s far more important for you to celebrate and support your friends’ decisions than it is for you to understand them.

Well said Common Application!

Thomas Jaworski is the lead consultant of Quest College Consulting. He is an Independent College Counselor with over ten years experience in the college admission process as an Certified Illinois Teacher (Type 09) and Counselor (Type 73) while also a member of IECA and NACAC. For more information, you can visit his website at or email him at Follow him on Twitter @Tom_QuestCC or on Facebook at

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