Happy Thursday Seniors!
This post is really long because there’s so much information to share with you. Scroll through to find what you’re looking for.
I keep seeing tons and tons — and tons — of posts with this school or that school, about negotiating financial aid, and looking for colleges that might still be accepting applications. I’m gonna try to cover as much as I can here in this one loooong post.
THIS IS IT
You’ve spent a lot of time and effort, and dealt with loads of stress to get to that confetti-filled computer screen, but you’re not quite done. You might have to choose between schools. There might be people who want to weigh in on your decision. Just remember this is your choice.
So, take your acceptances, look at yourself, and take a deep breath.
I know making a decision is stressful — more this year than ever I think. While I think it’s good to get feedback about specific schools (and I try to give feedback too when I can), I don’t think you should be making your decision based on what strangers on the internet say you should choose because it is such a personal/family decision. Here are some hints that might help no matter what schools you’re discussing.
So, pre-Covid, my biggest piece of advice for making your college decision is to make every effort you can to visit a college and then find a bench and just sit there and observe, listen, and tap into what feels right for you. I call that the Bench Test. But now that so many colleges have virtual info, while I still suggest an on-campus visit if possible, you can also jump into virtual offerings and delve into what you need and what works best for you in other ways.
Keep in mind that college is what you make of it. Always remember this: You are the dream, not the college and you’re bringing that dream—you—with you wherever you go. You’re bringing your badass self to some lucky college no matter what college you ultimately choose. They’re the lucky ones.
Come talk about your decisions with me on Wednesday, April 6th, at 6 pm CST on my YouTube channel, Badass College Apps w/AdmissionsMom. You can find the link to it here. I’ll have our own very very wise Mark from Better College Apps on with me! Hope to see you there! (Livestream will be recorded, so you can watch later!)
LEARNING MORE ABOUT COLLEGES
Now comes the fun part — deciding which school to commit to. This is something no one can decide for you. You have to go with what feels right for you, but that starts with learning as much as you can about a college. If you’re having a hard time, here are a few tricks you can use to help you decide:
- Follow them on social media — especially Instagram and Twitter — they’re putting out great info every day.
- Read their websites. Read their school newspaper.
- Make a sample course schedule for the fall. Find classes and professors that interest you.
- Reach out to their admissions offices. Ask questions. See if they have connections with current students.
- Chat with some students on their subreddit if it’s active and ask questions. There are no right or wrong answers to your questions because it’s all about what you’re interested in and what works best for you. Sample Questions: What do you like most? What do you like least? What do you do on a Saturday afternoon? What are your friends doing? What do you do on a Wednesday night? What might your friends be doing? What would you change?
VIRTUAL TOURS (AND OTHER WAYS TO LEARN MORE ABOUT A CAMPUS)
If you can’t visit on campus, the first place to start is the college’s own website. You can also see what kind of online programming the admissions offices are doing for you, the admitted students, like video chats and other online campus days.
Also, you can check out my website, CollegeVizzy. I’ve linked every website and tour I could find, including the youtube videos from colleges, campus reel, youniversitytv, niche.com, collegescoops, scoir, youvisit, art of college, and more. I also have links to their social media pages and subreddits just to get everything in one space for you ;)
MAKING THE FINAL DECISION
Finances: My opinion: I don’t think anyone should be taking on debt if you have the option of attending college without it. But, if you are considering debt, a “rule” of thumb I’ve heard is not to take on more total debt for all four years than your potential first-year salary — so for those of you looking to grad school, especially med and law school, you really want the minimum amount of debt possible. And don’t hesitate to try to renegotiate your financial aid. We’ve had lots of success stories on here. The worst that could happen is they’ll tell you no. Go to the next section to find resources for negotiating or appealing financial aid.
Visits/Virtual Visits: Do the virtual visits and tours linked above and explore the colleges’ websites. Examine their motto, peruse their social media, and the school newspaper. Does it fit your life and your philosophy? Do you see activities and classes and research you want to take part in?
Pros and Cons: This one is my favorite! Make an oversized list of pros and cons on paper for each school. Like, make it poster-sized. Put the name of the school at the top and then list all the pros and cons that you can think of for each school. Consider aspects like finances, culture, vibe, departments, honors, social, academics, geography, weather, surrounding area, travel from, and distance from home. Put it on your wall and leave it there for a few days so you can look it over and add and subtract from it as you absorb the thoughts. Hang out with these lists for a few days and add to them as you think of something. When one has more cons than pros take it down.
Spreadsheet: Excel the shit out of it and compare, compare compare. I have a sample for you to use to think about what you might want to compare. Here’s a link to mine if you want to use it.
Do the 10/10/10 test: Ask yourself: “How will I feel about my decision in 10 hours? 10 weeks? 10 years?”
Tell a Few: Make a choice. Tell your parents and maybe a few friends, and sleep on it. What’s your gut feeling? Does it feel right? If so, go for it. If not, rethink.
Coin Toss: Try the coin toss trick. Assign a side of the coin to a school and toss it. What are you secretly hoping for before it lands? That’s your school. Tell your parents and a couple of friends. Then sleep on it. How do you feel?
Gut Check: What’s keeping you up at night? Sit in silence for 15 minutes and focus on your breath — What thoughts are floating by? What’s your gut telling you?
FINANCIAL OPTIONS AREN’T WORKING OUT – Resources for Financial Aid Appeal or Negotiation:
I haven’t personally used either of these websites, but I’ve heard from other counselors and consultants that they can be helpful:
- FormSwift: https://formswift.com/swift-student.
- Merit More — https://meritmore.com/compare_offer_and_appeal_letter
Other Helpful Resources, Links, and Articles
- College Essay Guy has a great resource about how to write the financial aid appeal letter —
- New York Times article from April 2021 — You still have time…
- WaPo article from March 2022— Biggest Mistakes Families Make When Appealing Financial Aid
- Comment on A2C from last spring
DEPOSIT FEE WAIVER?
Here’s a link to deposit fee waiver info: https://www.nacacfairs.org/learn/fee-waiver/enrollment-deposit-fee-waiver/
YOU DESERVE IT — IMPOSTER SYNDROME
Sometimes amazing teens will come onto our subreddit who’ve had great success with their applications. They’ve been accepted to the schools they’ve worked so hard to be accepted to. Yet, to them, it still doesn’t feel right. They wonder why they were accepted over others. This is called Imposter Syndrome, and it can really fuck with your brain if you let it. Remember though: it’s just a feeling. Here’s the deal: You are good enough. Colleges, especially highly selective colleges, spend a lot of time and resources evaluating applications. They don’t often screw up. If they feel like you can handle the work — you can. Look, there will always be people who have stronger this and better that. That’s never going away. Those colleges took you because you are you. That’s what they wanted. Congrats on your amazing acceptances! You are gonna kill it in college.
DEALING WITH PARENTS
In the past, I’ve had kids ask me about what to do when they and their parents really disagree about the decision. My advice: communicate. Do your research, make a presentation that covers all the concerns your parents may have — future career options, cost and financial aid, internships, professors, class size, distance from home. Think about what they are worried about and then try to address those worries with your research. Ask them to give you some time and then present your research to them. Listen to them respectfully and ask them to do the same. Repeat their concerns back to them, so they know you are listening and understand.
DON’T LET ANYONE MAKE YOU FEEL BAD ABOUT YOUR CHOICE
Sometimes, others will try to make you feel bad about your choice. All you need to worry about is that you’re going to a school that best serves you. Wear that college t-shirt proudly and slap those stickers on your laptop! Be proud of your achievements, because believe me, going to college is a huge achievement, and you should be excited about this new path you’ve found for yourself.
Most of all, don’t accept the words of anyone who tries to denigrate your college choice. It’s rude and, frankly, none of their business. As in most things, my advice is “You do you.” Here’s a story I love from Neil Pasricha’s The Happiness Equation adapted by my son, Joseph.
It’s all about Buddha’s philosophy concerning the value we give to other people’s words:
Buddha spent a lot of his time wandering around and teaching folks about how to live a good life. One day he was going about his business, sitting under the Bodhi tree, spreading his ideas when another Brahman, let’s call him Fred, got all up in Buddha’s face and said, “Hey, man, who said your ideas are right? You’re not as smart as you think you are.”
Buddha sat silently and smiled at Fred, only making Fred’s cheeks grow red with rage.
Fred spoke up again, “Hey! I’m talking to you! Stop smiling at me, freak.”
Buddha kept smiling and then replied, “Do you ever have guests at your house?”
“Yeah, of course,” Fred answered.
Buddha then asked, “And when you have guests, do you give them snacks, maybe some chips and dip?”
Fred replied, “Of course! I’m not about being a bad host.”
Then Buddha chuckled wisely, “Well, if your guest says they don’t want some chips, like they’re not hungry or something, then to whom do those chips belong?”
“Uhhhh, weird question,” Fred retorted. “But I guess me.”
“Well,” Buddha said, still smiling, “just as your guest didn’t accept those chips, I’m not accepting your hateful words, and so those words are yours and not mine.”
“Whoa,” Fred said, “Mind. Blown.”
WHAT IF IT JUST ISN’T WORKING OUT SO FAR?
I know some of you aren’t worried about making a choice yet because you’re still worried about where/if your application will be accepted. If your application acceptances or finances didn’t go your way, you do have options still. You can:
- apply to some of the many amazing colleges that are still accepting apps — see the section after the tl;dr with colleges still accepting apps
- take a gap year
- attend community college for a year.
- And if you find yourself juggling a waitlist or two, here’s the link to that post.
- Finally, if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed and depressed, please check out this post here: Hey Seniors, if your application decisions disappointed, it can really hurt.
- Application acceptance is a stellar accomplishment. Be proud of yourself!
- If you’re struggling to decide between a few schools, visit them in person or virtually visit them all. Make a pros and cons list. Tell a very select few people which school you’ve chosen, and then sleep on it to see how you feel.
- Don’t accept the words of those busybodies who think they have the right to be rude about your college choice. Be like the Buddha, and let those words roll off you.
- Imposter syndrome is when you feel like you don’t deserve the successes you’ve earned. It is a feeling and it can be hard to shake. Don’t let it mess with you. You are worthy.
- Don’t be afraid to negotiate or appeal your financial aid
- There are still a shit ton of amazing colleges accepting applications – many of them with money for stellar students like you – see below
- Also, be sure to check out Mark from Better College Apps’s amazing post about how to get to May
XOXO AdmissionsMom (as always, I’m available to answer questions the best I can – preferably here in the comments so others can learn from your questions!)
MY LIST OF COLLEGES STILL ACCEPTING APPS
The actual common app list is much longer than this. The NACAC list is also much longer and will keep growing as colleges realize they need to fill their classes. I’ve only included schools that I’ve personally visited and liked or met their admissions team, or I know someone who has visited and liked it, or I know someone who’s attended and been happy. If you have schools for me to add, please send them my way.
If you have schools for me to add, please put them in the comments!
* If there’s an asterisk next to a school, that means there are no app fees!
Still Accepting Apps From NACAC List (as of April 4 – this will grow) Or that I’ve heard via the college counseling grapevine
* University of the South/Sewanee: liberal arts college, intellectual vibe, real life-changers, gorgeous mountain top campus
Michigan State U
Miami U of Ohio: Really pretty mid-sized university, strong business, strong school spirit
U Kentucky — from u/Fathoms_Deep_1: “For anyone looking for a great state flagships school after all the deferrals, I would really suggest the University of Kentucky before February 15th. Very high acceptance rate, good scholarships for OOS, brand new dorms (most have private bathrooms!) and the campus is constantly adding new buildings and modernity older ones. Plus Lexington is a pretty fantastic city. Oh, and they have a fucking awesome basketball team if that helps.”
* College of Wooster: beautiful campus, close to Akron (students also do internships in Columbus and Cleveland), known for mentored research for undergraduate students (call them to see )
Emmanuel College — from u/Global-Situation-377: “It’s tiny, but in a great part of Fenway in Boston right beside BU and NEU. My closest friend is attending there so I’ve only heard good things, though.”
John Cabot U Rome: in my favorite area of Rome, Trastavere
Earlham U in Indiana: I’ve known a few people who’ve attended and loved. LAC
Austin College in Sherman Texas: Small liberal arts college, strong premed program
Marist College: I’ve never visited, but have heard so many amazing things about this school
Marquette U: Midsize midwestern U in a cool city
*Creighton U: this is the school where one of my personal heroes attended, Ernie Chambers. If you don’t know who he is, look him up
American College Dublin
Jacobs U Bremen
Northern Arizona U
St Mary’s College California
U South Dakota
U New England
U Nevada Las Vegas
Old Dominion (honors also)
St Louis U
St. Lawrence U
U New Mexico (scholarship money)
U Mary Washington
St Mary’s College Maryland
U St. Francis
Texas Tech: loved my visit here. Beautiful big campus feel. Fun exciting environment.
Loyola New Orleans: this school blew me away when I visited last spring, beautiful, next door to Tulane, right on a park, in one of my favorite areas of New Orleans
UT Dallas: cool modern campus, great business programs
U Iowa: amazing campus, cool town, lots of awesome programs, if you don’t have a sure-bet school, I recommend checking this one out
St. Edward’s U: Austin, Texas, gorgeous campus on a hill, lovely Austin vibe
U Nebraska Lincoln: tons of school spirit, large research university
U St. Andrews in Scotland: if you’re on the hunt for the traditional highly selective kind of campus feel, check out St. Andrews in Scotland
U Houston: honors is still available (3/31)cool pretty campus, lots of green space and student involvement, great architecture, engineering, creative writing, and entrepreneurship programs
American U Paris – city of light!
U Arizona: Have heard from tons of kids about the opportunities they’ve been able to take advantage of here
Franklin U, Switzerland: liberal arts college, interesting engaged students, in Switzerland (nuff said)
Millsaps College: Beautiful campus near downtown Jackson, Mississippi
July Deadlines and Rolling
Warren Wilson College: Haven’t visited in person yet, but went to some online sessions and was so impressed with this school and what they are offering their students. In beautiful Asheville, NC
American U Rome: I visited this campus a couple of years ago and was blown away. It’s in my favorite city in the world in a really cool neighborhood high on a hill overlooking the entire city.
Arizona State: gorgeous campus, lots of outdoor activities, ASU is doing their part to educate the citizens of the US and the world, check them out
Belmont U – beautiful campus right in the heart of the music biz in Nashville. Known for great music programs and business. Not far from Vandy
Fort Lewis College: public liberal arts college in Durango, Colorado, beautiful modern campus, super cool little town (priority app due March 1)
Hawaii Pacific U: priority deadline was Jan 15, but they accept ongoing apps. Cool city school right in the middle of Honolulu!
Western Colorado U: in Gunnison Colorado, small liberal arts college, amazing skiing just half-hour away in Crested Butte, engineering degrees from CU Boulder
St. John’s College (MD and NM): if you’re looking for colleges that are intellectually stimulating, then look no further (edited to add: their deadline was Jan 15, but they do rolling after that. I suggest applying if they interest you. I haven’t yet visited the Annapolis Campus, but the Santa Fe campus was really cool. I took one of the longest hikes of my life straight from campus and met some awesome students.)
Loyola Chicago: Beautiful campus right on the lake in the middle of Chicago
U Pittsburgh: cool campus, lots of opportunities ( not downtown Pittsburgh. But in a nice area with ease of transportation).
St. John’s U: Long Island, good business programs, super diverse student body, close opportunities in NYC
Iowa State: I love this campus in Ames Iowa
SCAD: Savannah College of Art and Design
Washington State U
Kansas State U
Marymount Manhattan College
U Arkansas — (from u/BuffsBourbon: Walton Bus School, crazy awesome athletic teams in SEC, A-grade Greek life on Niche, Fayetteville is #4 best city to live in USNWR rankings)