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March Comes In Like A Lion

For seniors starting to hear from colleges, your college future is just around the corner, and it is now time to shift into "decision phase." The next few weeks may be bumpy (or not), but hopefully you have options and now choices to make. While you may feel like you are still in waiting mode, it's time to begin the work to determine where to attend school next fall, and possibly whether to wait out a waitlist - if you want to. Even if you have a clear choice that has remained in the lead throughout your college journey, it's a good idea to lean into the four steps below to affirm your decision. You will want to allocate time for a deeper dive into your admitted schools, which may include a college visit or two. One question that often arises during "decision time" is "which school is best?" The "best" school will be super-specific to you, your priorities, and your goals. It may also involve tradeoffs like location vs. size vs. program opportunities vs. cost (or something wholly aligned with your goals). That's why it's essential to dive back in and look at colleges you've been admitted to and waitlisted.

Tackle the following steps:

1. Review all college costs. With admitted notifications, you should now have a clearer idea of the cost to attend (tuition, room & board, books & supplies, transportation, and miscellaneous student fees and costs). As you look closer at costs, be sure to include any potential merit, need, or other financial aid to help determine the financial "fit." Remember to calculate for four and six years – especially if comparing public universities to private schools.

2. Attend Admitted Student Days virtually, on campus, or at a locally hosted event. Check on Instagram feeds for Admissions and student-led posts to get the "inside view."

3. Talk to student Ambassadors or friends at each school to which you are admitted or waitlisted.

4. Review your priorities for your college experiences, like majors, flexibility to change majors, academic rigor, career placement and alumni connections, college vibe, student support services, etc.

Take a moment to celebrate your hard work, perseverance, and success. You may feel like your college journey is shifting into the past. But your journey is just beginning and full of possibilities. So congratulations on carving out the path that is right for you- you're going to college!

Related Articles: Decisions. Decisions. Decisions.

Tools for Reviewing College Costs:

Financial Aid Letter Comparison Tool, in this NPR article: Confused By Your College Financial Aid Letter? You're Not Alone

Net Price Calculator, Center U.S. Department of Education

Financial Aid Shopping Sheet, Better Make Room

For Parents: These two books are comprehensive guides that offer "operating instructions" [1] for launching your soon-to-be graduate and what may feel like a first-year to the rest of your young adult's life. Add these to your library of parent resources and gifts to give.

[1] Annie Lamott's Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year

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