It’s often said that choosing a college is the first adult decision that many teens make in their lives.
It’s no surprise, then, that the next few weeks will be particularly stressful ones for college-bound high school seniors as they anxiously wait for their college acceptances to come in and start thinking about where they will ultimately enroll.
“I get students who are really freaked out that they are making the wrong decision,” says Sheila Akbar, the education director at Signet Education, a tutoring and test prep company that advises students throughout the application process. “It’s really impossible to see into the future, but if you did your homework, all of the schools you applied to should still be attractive to you.”
Akbar recommends doing the following before officially saying yes to a school:
Be confident in your choices: “If you talk to different students, you learn that college is what you make of it,” she notes. “You’ll find your crew; you’ll find friends; you’ll find a community.”
Talk about your financial aid options: Students and their families should also carefully look at each school’s financial aid packages. “Which is the best deal?” asks Akbar. “And remember, those deals aren’t set in stone. You can negotiate.”
But, Akbar warns, it’s important not to go too far. “Don’t say [for example], ‘I got this much from Georgetown. Hey NYU, how much are you going to give me?’ Don’t pit schools against each other. That’s a bad idea.”
Sit in on a class: During your visit, Akbar suggests that you also take the time to sit in on a class. “See how the students are engaged,” she says. “You want to see what’s comfortable for you.”
Take another tour: “Go back to visit,” says Akbar. “Now it’s a little more realistic because you can be a student there. Now you can go and think, ‘This feels right,’ or, ‘Something is weird.’” It’s important to also make time to talk to current students to get their thoughts on life on campus. “You can ask honest questions because you know you are already in,” she says.
Related: Get into a top college with these tips.
Follow Lakshmi Gandhi on Twitter at @LakshmiGandhi.