The “National Candidates Reply Date” of May 1 is quickly approaching, so we’ve come up with a few last minute tips to help parents support their children through what may be their first major life decision.
(Side note: it’s also completely okay if parents are the ones making the decision! In my family, s/he who will be paying the bills will be playing a large role in the decision-making process, although I know many families approach this from a different mindset!)
1. Consider which factors matter most when reflecting on the idea of “best fit.”
This goes beyond a generic pros and cons list. First, think about which factors are most important to your family. Academic ranking in a specialty field? The institution’s post-grad job placement rate? Extracurriculars that the school (and specific major) offer? What about location - do you want to embrace a college town or big city? After answering the questions that your family and student find most significant and weighting the answers accordingly, rank each school and see which name lands at the top.
2. Reach out to your network.
Do you know any alumni who attended the schools on your final list? If you have any questions about their college experience at said school, general or specific, now is the time to ask. Chances are, if for some reason they cannot give you an answer to one of your questions, they’ll know who can and will put you in contact with the right person to provide you all of the information you’re seeking.
3. You may have to make a decision before you think you’re ready.
Students have to send a deposit to one school by May 1, and yes, this is still the case if your son or daughter is waiting to hear back from a potential waitlist option. Don’t fret if you’re admitted to your top choice school after sending a deposit to another school - you are still able to accept the waitlist spot. Just be open and honest about the situation to that first institution, letting them know right away that you’ve been admitted from the other school’s waitlist. Note: You will typically lose your deposit from the first school, generally $500 - $1,000.
4. Whatever you do, don’t double deposit!
I can’t stress this enough! Some parents may think they are protecting their child by considering a “double deposit,” the term for depositing at more than one school at a time. First and foremost, it is unethical to make this kind of commitment to more than one school, and it takes a spot away from another deserving student. Colleges can and often do share lists with one another, and it’s not worth the risk. Institutions almost always rescind their acceptance offers if they discover a student double deposited.
5. Trust your gut.
You know that this-just-feels-right feeling you experienced when you first visited campus? Well, that means something. Beyond the college’s rankings and all of the other statistics, percentages and numbers thrown at you, the most important question is – could this be your home away from home? Would you be happy here? We can’t stress this enough to the students and families we work alongside. Select the school that lets you answer these questions with a resounding “YES!”