Decisions, Decisions

,., decision making

,., decision making (Photo credit: nerovivo)

The May 1st decision deadline looms ominously on the horizon. Some students are certain about where they will matriculate in the fall, but for others that decision provokes additional weeping and gnashing of teeth in what may have already been an angst ridden senior year.

It is so important to research well the schools being applied to-and to visit in person, prior to the decision-and, even better, to visit prior to applying. Quite often college bound students put off some of the necessary work needed to learn more about the schools they’ve applied to. In our technological age, there are no excuses for that. Time constraints do factor in (a bit) but more often than not, it’s fear-fear of making that final selection, fear of it being the wrong choice, holding off until time ticks away, and a decision is made in desperation, rather than with careful thought and planning.

A large percentage of students apply to too many schools. There, I said it. There is great temptation to grow the application list in hopes of guaranteeing acceptance to at least 1 school. I know of a student who applied to 20 colleges-yes, 20 (oh my, think of the cost of application fees!)-and she wasn’t accepted to any. Zip, zilch, nada. She clearly needed more guidance about picking the right fit schools where her academic and other abilities would shine. Legwork ahead of application time would have saved her the hearbreak of no acceptances later in the year. The school matriculation decision was made for her, and off to community college she went that fall. Her case may sound extreme, but there are many students commonly applying to several (8 or more) colleges. Sometimes they are accepted at all or most, then face the issue of having to make the final choice, without having done much research on the schools applied to. Read on.

Clare Tiarsmith is a college bound senior from Georgia who applied to 8 colleges, was accepted at 7 and waitlisted at 1. The article she’s written, posted in today’s The Choice blog, chronicles her decision making journey. At press time she still doesn’t have the firm decision pinned down-although she has narrowed the choice to 2 schools. Her post doesn’t offer advice on the best way to make the decision but clearly shows why, on April 30th, she is still in a quandary about the choice and may end up flipping a coin. Makes me wonder how many other college bound seniors are doing just that today…the coin toss.

Students and parents who’ve lived through this process, I would love your feedback. How did you handle it? What would you have done differently in the decision making process? Parents, did you offer guidance? Was that advice heeded? All: what lessons have you learned?

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