The Acceptances Are In: Choosing the Right College in May

By now high school seniors have all their admission decisions, and the tables are suddenly turned: no longer wondering who will choose them, the conversation is about which college they will choose.

Many colleges will have “admitted student” events — they range from one day programs to three-day weekends where current students host admitted students in their dorm. At these events admitted students can attend classes, learn about clubs and organizations, go to sports games, or catch a play or concert. They may also be able to visit the Career Services Center or, if appropriate, the Student Disability Office.

These events are fun!!! But they are also recruiting events, and not every day at college is a party. As students decide where to attend college, they need to go back to the criteria they identified at the beginning of the admissions process. Are those criteria still important to them or have they changed? Which college best matches what they want in their college experience?

Students can create a “pros and cons” or “pluses and minuses” list:

  • Does the location still appeal to the student?
  • Is the college too big, too small, or “just right”?
  • Is the college still a good academic fit?
  • Is the college still a good social fit?
  • What is the actual cost of attendance now that the student (and family) knows their financial aid package? What impact, if any, does this have on choosing one college over another?


Students should talk to currently enrolled students or recent graduates, and ask at least three of them:

  • What is their favorite part of the college?
  • What is their least favorite part of the college?
  • What surprised them most about the college?
  • What do they wish they had known before they chose the college?
  • If they had three wishes, what would they change about the college?


At the end of the day, students need to ask themselves if they feel at home on the campus, whether they can imagine themselves there. Even if a college has more pluses than minuses/more pros than cons, students must feel comfortable there.

Choosing a college is a little like dating, buying a home, or choosing a car – research is great, but instinct matters too. If a student just knows that a particular college is the right place for them, then that is almost always where they should say yes!