College Counseling & Planning      Orleans, MA. (774) 801-2449      Ashland, OR. (541) 488-0919
The most valuable aspect of the relationship that Jan offered to our family was that of being an objective observer...more
--Dominique Sukles, mother of Alex Sukles, Bowdoin College, 2017

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Now that the colleges have had their chance to mull over your application and dissect every word you have written or uttered, the tables are turned and it is up to you to decide which college will be the best match for you. If some of your reasons for applying to a particular college have changed, don’t be alarmed – it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are fickle or confused. Four or five months in the life of a senior can bring many goal and idea changes. This just means that you are maturing and hopefully beginning to really think of life beyond high school.

Now is the time to have an honest talk with yourself about what you want your college experience to be. Here are some dos and don’ts when wrestling with this decision:

  • Think twice about size. Now is the time to be truthful about your learning style. You will do yourself no favor if you choose a school with large lecture halls when you really shine in small seminar situations and vice versa.
  • Academic and personal growth. Choose a school that is going to challenge you, but not overwhelm you. Consider a school where peers and professors will stimulate you and stretch your horizons. Think twice about taking the hardest or the easiest road. Flunking out and personal misery will not serve you well just as sailing through with no challenge will leave you with a college experience that will not be fondly remembered.Distance. Do you really want to get as far away from home as you can or do you really want to stay close to what is familiar and comfortable? Either way, if distance is the determinate, you will quickly see that independence or relational closeness is not a function of distance.
  •  Environment. Most students transfer for this reason – they didn’t pay enough attention to if or how the environment factor would affect them. There is more to this decision than scenery and climate. Hot/cold, plains/mountains, sunny/rainy, small town/big city, quiet/party campus, New England/Southern/Northwest/ California/Midwest culture, conservative/liberal, too religious/not religious enough are all factors that should be considered when making the final decision.
  • Prestige. Just because a school has a big name and a world famous reputation does not mean that it is the right school for you – even if you did get accepted. Being happy and successful for four years won’t happen just because the school is prestigious.
  • Girl friend/boyfriend/best friend. The right school for your friends may not be the right one for you. Now is the time to think about building new friendships and relationships. Believe it or not, it is easier to adjust to college life and make new friends if you have just yourself to worry about.

And last, but not least:

  • Students. Be willing to take advice. Although this is a time when you want to, and should, make your own decisions, it is also the time to listen to people who know you. Parents and teachers can be a valuable resource when trying to make the best college choice.
  •  Parents. After years of parenting it is natural and expected that you have an acute understanding of what is best for your student. However, for good or bad, right or wrong, students have formed their own ideas of what they want.

Parents remember: It is the student who is going to show up on the campus next
Fall and it is the student who is going to have to make a success of the choice.
Judith Christie
College Planning Consultants