By this time in your senior year, you’ve probably gathered information about lots of different colleges, and the finish line is getting closer. Now, you’re in the home stretch. You may still be finishing up applications, or maybe you’ve already submitted them and you’re waiting to hear back. Some students may even have already been accepted to a school or two. Congratulations!
So, what’s next? As the end draws near, we’re here to help guide you through the final steps of your college search.
Once you start receiving college acceptance letters, take time to review them carefully and to celebrate! Then reflect. Ask yourself which school stood out the most during your campus visits? Which school offers quality opportunities for achieving your career aspirations? Which school has demonstrated its commitment to helping you reach your goals? What about financial aid? Has the school partnered with you to help fund your education?
Remember that you may also receive rejection and waitlist letters, and that is okay. Your friends might also receive their acceptance letters before you do. No need to fret; this happens. Focus on what you need to do. Try to stay away from forums and message boards. It also helps to not set your heart on a single school; be sure to have several colleges on your best-fit list.
When you decide which college you want to choose, notify that school immediately. Some schools require commitment notifications and financial deposits early. Plan to attend any pre-orientation events during the spring or summer to acclimate yourself to campus and prepare you for the first semester.
Also, once you’ve been accepted, there are many more deadlines to keep in mind such as submitting your FAFSA, scholarship applications, your final transcripts, and meeting with your counselor to double-check you’re on target for graduation. It’s easy to lose track, so monitor everything in a planner or calendar. You can also make a check-list with your admissions counselor to help keep track of enrollment deadlines and action items.
After visiting some schools during your junior year, you should now be focusing on your “short list” of schools in your senior year. You have likely narrowed down your interest area of study and the pros and cons of schools you’re considering. You may also want to go back for a second visit – it’s fine to visit a school multiple times before making a final decision. It’s best to feel confident and secure in your final decision before committing to a school.
Review each college’s admission website to see when tours are offered. Be prepared to talk about what you’re looking for in a college environment and a possible academic major. Think about these questions: Does each college offer your intended major and align with your strengths, interests, and career goals? (If you aren’t sure what you want to major in yet, that’s okay! Ask how they can support you in making that decision.) Does each college on your list provide the type of campus community you’re looking for as a student?
You’ve got this! Waiting on admissions decisions and finalizing your college choice can seem daunting, but try to only worry about the things that are within your control. In times like these, remember to use the support system you’ve built over the years. Parents, friends, teachers, counselors, and mentors are here to advise or simply reassure you. Also, remember to enjoy your senior year; if you spend all year yearning for graduation or stressing about college, you will miss out on your last year of high school!
Now, get ready to take the next step in your life and embark on your next adventure. You’re taking an important step toward discovering who you truly are and becoming even stronger throughout your search for your best-fit school.