The College Choice

by St.Martin's College Counseling

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Yesterday was the first day of spring. In the college counseling office, this time of year is marked more by the anxiety of waiting for final college decisions than by the flowers or the bees or the warm weather that we expected weeks ago.  The good news is also part of it, but too often overshadowed by the rejection, the deferrals and the waiting for any sort of answer. Those are hard parts, but they aren’t the hardest.

So what is?

Making the decision of where you want to spend the next 4+ years (and what you want to spend it doing). Rejections are blessings. Deferrals, too. Any decision made for you is because it allows you to move on and own the next steps.

But two or more acceptances…this is when it gets hard. This is often when we freeze – given more than one choice, all with pros and cons. (There really is no such thing as the perfect school, even for you). Maybe one is the “dream” but the other has the money. Maybe neither are the “dream” and you are choosing between options that seem subpar. Or maybe you’re (un?)lucky enough to have all of the options.

What do you do with all of the options?

  • First, answer this question honestly: Why do you want to go to college? Not why your parents, teachers, counselors or siblings want you to go, but why do you want to go?
  • Focus not only on what you will gain by going to one, but by what you may lose not going to the other.
  • Talk with your parents seriously about finances. What are they willing to pay? What can they afford to pay? What will you need to take on financially on your own? What if you have plans for graduate school? Is it necessary to go to grad school?
  • Take time now to get to know yourself. When you go to college, even if you stay in-state, you’ll be allowed by your new community to change who you are. Don’t let the preconceived notions others have about you now influence who you want to become.
  • If you’ve been waitlisted at your top choice school, make sure they know you’re still interested. Reply to the offer immediately requesting to remain in consideration. Visit if you haven’t visited. Send a formal letter to your rep thanking them for the offer and expressing sincere interest. If it is your first choice school, tell them.
  • Visit any schools you haven’t seen yet.
  • Think about where schools are located and if this could affect your happiness and success.
  • Start planning for an interesting summer – get a job, take a class, volunteer or travel. It will not only give your mind a rest from the decision process, but will also help you know what you like and what you’re good at as you decide on a major or career path.

I’ll leave you with a look at how your peers have made their decisions in the past. Which category would you rather be in?

  • StM’s Class of 2012’s 54 graduates attended 37 different colleges and universities.
  • 20 graduates (37%) stayed in Louisiana.
  • 29 graduates (53.7%) attended a college where they were the only St. Martin’s student from their class.
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