How Do I Choose a College After Being Accepted?
Potential college students wondering, “How do I choose a college after being accepted?” know that researching schools, taking entrance exams, and visiting campuses are often the easy parts of applying to college. Find out here how to consider the cost, understand financial aid, and weigh academic options to choose the right college.
Consider the Cost
For many college students, the cost is an important factor in deciding where to go to school. Even if you’ve already run the numbers and made sure that you can afford to attend before you even submitted your application, getting an acceptance letter automatically makes the budget seem more real.
As your acceptance letters start to arrive, take the time to develop more detailed budgets for each school, to help you assess the overall cost. Consider the following standard expenses related to attending college:
- Dorm fee or typical rent
- Board or average food costs
- Public transit or car payments and insurance
- Textbooks and facility fees
If you’re considering schools in different parts of the country, don’t forget to add in the cost of traveling there and back. You’ll probably want to add in the costs of flying or driving home for the holidays and lengthy school breaks, too. After you’ve added up all of these standard expenses, see how the costs of your college choices compare.
Calculate Your Financial Aid Package
Financial aid is a critical factor for most undergraduate and graduate students. While most students have access to scholarships, grants, federal and private student loans, and other forms of assistance, your financial aid options may vary significantly from one school to the next.
Before you compare the financial aid packages from each school, make sure you’ve completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form and researched all possible scholarship opportunities. By doing so, you’ll ensure that you’ve made yourself eligible for every type of financial aid.
Next, compare your financial aid letters side by side. Remember that scholarships, grants, and similar types of financial assistance are often more helpful in the long run since you don’t have to pay them back. When considering student loans, remember that federal loans often offer more helpful consolidation and repayment options. In addition, subsidized federal loans can help you save on interest costs while you’re in school.
Weigh the Academic Options
Cost is important, but it isn’t everything. Naturally, you want to attend a college that will help you meet your academic and career goals, offering a solid investment for your time and money.
First, compare the degree options. If you’re undecided about a major, you may want to ensure that the school has a wide range of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) degree programs, as well as business, or liberal arts. If you already know which major you want to pursue, you can consider the academic programs more carefully. Take a closer look at the course offerings, read up on the faculty members, and consider the options for specializing in your chosen field. If you haven’t visited the campus or checked out the program in person, consider doing so now.
Know the Statistics
When you’re first starting to map out a plan for your college career, you might assume that you’ll get your degree in four years and then land a job right away or pursue a graduate degree. This might be the standard timeline, but that doesn’t mean everyone’s college career looks the same.
Before you commit to a university, make sure you know how most students perform in school and beyond. Find out the four-year graduation rate and assess the percentage of students who find employment in their field within a year of graduation. If graduate school is a key part of your plan, find out how many of the university’s students typically pursue an advanced degree in your field. Reviewing the statistics will help you understand how your college career could look.
Talk to Counselors and College Students
If you can’t decide between two or more colleges, talking with those you trust can help narrow down your choices. Sit down with your high school counselor to talk over the pros and cons of each program and get input from a different perspective. Consider talking with current students at the colleges you’re considering to get a better sense of the potential outcomes of your college experience.
Whether you’re deciding between two colleges or you’re lucky enough to have received multiple acceptance letters, keep these tips in mind as you weigh your options. If tuition, scholarships, and financial aid are major deciding factors, be sure to fill out the FAFSA® form to get the assistance you need with paying for your college education.