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Articles / 5 Things To Consider if You Still Can’t Decide on a School

5 Things To Consider if You Still Can’t Decide on a School

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Written by Sam Jaquez | April 21, 2022
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Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

Admission decisions have been released and the deadline for enrollment deposits is getting closer by the minute. If you're still not sure which college to choose, or if you're hoping to get off the waitlist for your top choice, deciding where to send your deposit can be stressful. How do you choose the right college when you’ve been accepted to several? Here are five things to consider if you still can’t decide where to attend.

1. How Much of a Factor Are Finances?

Planning financially for college is very important if you plan to use grants or loans. Some colleges will offer more aid than others, so it is important to do research to find what is best for you.

A great way to factor finances into your college decision is to look at the financial aid packages being offered by the schools you are considering. Is one school’s financial aid package better than the rest? If you will be depending on financial aid, this might be a deciding factor.

However, make sure to look at the whole financial aid award. Sometimes colleges will “front load” a financial aid award, which makes the first year affordable but significantly reduces aid for subsequent years.

A small financial aid package that falls short of expectations doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker, however. There are a few things you can do. Aside from choosing a school with a better financial aid offer, you could:

  • Examine your family’s circumstances – if your family is going through a hardship, such as a parent with a job loss or an addition to the family, you could be eligible for more aid.
  • Compare your offers – if another college has offered you slightly more, you might be able to appeal to your preferred college to meet that higher price.
  • Change housing plans – you might be able to save some money and fees by finding a cheaper housing option. This could mean a different meal plan or even more roommates.

For more options and tips check out What to Do if Your Financial Aid Package Falls Short.

2. Identify Your Most Important Factor

When considering your schools, identify the one or two most important qualities that will influence your specific experience. Is it important for you to be able to travel home frequently for holidays or family events? Proximity to home could be a deciding factor. Will you feel lost if you can't play lacrosse or keep up with your ballroom dancing? Picking a school that offers accessible programs and clubs for your specific interests could be a major influencing factor.

If you know exactly what you want to study and how it relates to your future goals, prioritizing a school that has the best academic program could be a wise decision.

Common Determining Factors:

  • Location
  • Sports
  • Location
  • Academic Teams and Clubs
  • Greek Life
  • Study Abroad
  • Academics

Think about what you want out of your college experience. Now look at the schools you are considering and compare your ranking of factors to those offered by each school. By doing this, you might find that one school offers you more than the other schools.

A great way to get to know if a school will be the right fit for you is to tour the campus before making a decision. Even if you've already toured the campus once, a second tour can help confirm your initial impression or see the school in a new light.

3. Consider Alternative Plans

If none of the schools that accepted you feel like good options, you may want consider alternatives, like a gap year or starting at community college.

If you aren’t sure about what you want to study, a gap year can be a time to reflect on your options. Planning a successful gap year may be exactly what you need to broaden your horizons before college. If you know what schools you would like to attend by didn’t secure enough financial aid, you could use the gap year to work and save. Or a gap year could be a time to travel, mature, or gain more confidence in your academic goals.

Community college has become more popular as a college option in recent years. Community college is an affordable way to begin your studies. May students are opting to take their general academic requirements at community college before transferring to a major college or university to finish their degree. This could be a good option for students who want to begin their post-secondary education but have not yet choses a major or want to save money.

4. Crowd Sourcing Advice

There are many ways to gain advice about college planning including talking to an advisor, attending admitted student days or webinars, or talking to current students and other applicants who face similar choices. The CC Forums are a great place to get candid, confidential advice on topics like how to choose between your dream school and a school that offered you the most financial assistance.

Talking with other students can be a great way to gain perspective and make sure you're considering all factors and angles before settling on a decision.

5. Don’t Bank on Waitlists

Being waitlisted can be a beacon of hope for many applicants. However, it is important to remember that a position on a waitlist does not automatically mean you will be admitted as a student. Be cautious of putting all your hope into a waitlisted position, as it isn’t a sure sign of admittance.

In recent years, waitlists have become longer than usual and fewer waitlisted applicants are receiving offers of admission. Predicting the number of waitlisted students who will receive an offer has become incredibly difficult as the admissions process evolves.

With longer waitlists, it’s important to have a backup plan. Being waitlisted can be discouraging, but by being proactive, you can prepare for any situation.

Ways to be proactive when waitlisted:

Don’t forget: you can withdraw from a school after making a deposit if you are admitted off the waitlist at another school.


Remember: There Is No Right or Wrong Decision

Each situation is unique. Know what qualities you want in a school, what experiences you want to have, and what you want to study while in college. Then, do your research. Consider the schools on your list and compare them to your own expectations and goals.

What is “right” for one student may be “wrong” for another. Do not be worried about making a right or wrong decision; rather, focus on finding a school that fits you and your needs. As long as you make an informed decision, there can be no wrong choice.

Even if you feel unsatisfied with a decision you do make, there are always ways to fix it. Ultimately, whatever route you choose, make sure your decision reflect what is most important for you.

Written by

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Sam Jaquez

Sam is a freelance writer, a blogger, and a bookmark collector. She studied at the University of Massachusetts Boston where she earned a degree in English. Sam has written articles about productivity, college, film & tv, and science.

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