Spring is here and high school seniors across the nation are eagerly awaiting admission decisions to arrive in their inboxes or mailboxes. After your initial celebration of being accepted into your dream school(s), take the time to do careful research to find your “best fit” college. Being admitted was just the beginning. Below are some tips to further help your decision.
Talk to alumni: beyond the amenities and fine dining you’re expecting in college, the academics that you’ll have to succeed in to obtain a degree will be a key factor in shaping your next four years. For colleges in which you have an interest, find alumni or current students and conduct brief “interviews”. Use your own network and extended network of family and friends to connect with students who have first-hand experience of Professor Smith’s chemistry class you as a potential chemistry major will have to take. Talk to undergraduates currently in Professor Joe’s biology lab to determine research opportunities.
Keep track of deadlines: make note of the dates by which you have to reply to a college that has offered you admissions. It would be a shame if you were to be turned away from your dream university due to a technicality. This, of course, sounds like common sense, but while you are busy with calculus and U.S. history homework, exams, and fielding several admission offers, details can easily be forgotten.
Continue to search for scholarship opportunities: rare is the student these days who can afford the full sticker price of higher education. Being able to finance your future education is a key part of the admissions process. Ask your school’s guidance counselor for a list of known scholarships. Use your “googling” skills to find additional opportunities, such as Varsity Tutor’s college scholarship.
Compare financial aid packages: know the differences between a grant and a student loan. Check up on your colleges’ merit or need-based scholarships. Find out about work-study opportunities on campus. Some colleges have special merit-based scholarships. Others only award financial aid based on need. Carefully check the details of all your different financial aid offers.