The deadline for most seniors to accept or decline most admissions offers is coming up soon--May 1. You may have already made that decision a while ago. If so, congratulations! (And thanks for continuing to read my blog!) But if you're still struggling to choose between two schools, or three schools, or seven schools or however many, then you may be looking for some help.
At this point, I'm assuming that money probably isn't the issue. If you're stuck choosing between two similar schools where one costs wildly more than the other, then you're not really struggling to decide...you're just procrastinating. I'm also guessing that if you're still struggling to decide, then a simple "make a list of pros and cons for each school" is something you've already thought of and found unhelpful. Still, if you haven't checked a school's vital stats lately--graduation rate, rate of sophomore return, student-faculty ratio--then go back and look those over.
Here are some more exercises to help you make that final decision, ordered from most serious to most arbitrary.
* Go back over your college mission statement carefully. Decide how many separate factors are a part of it, and then see how many of those factors are met by each school. The one that comes closest to meeting all your factors is where you should go. If you haven't yet made a mission statement, it's not too late.
* Maybe there's a school that you would like to consider, but it's a little outside your comfort zone. Perhaps it's farther away than you want to be, or larger than you'd want. Maybe it's an all-girls school, or a military school, or will make it your first time being in a minority. Go to that school. You like it well enough that you applied, and they like you well enough that they accepted you. The fact that it's a little outside the norm for you is exactly why you should go there. This isn't the time to play it safe or delay pushing yourself.
* It was widely reported a few years ago that there are more American large companies run by men named John than run by women at all. This demonstrates just how far American institutions have to go to show diversity in their leadership. Look through the faculty listing of each school you're considering, and choose the one with the fewest professors named John.
* Write down what you think the ideal high temperature is for November first, right at the height of fall. Then look up the average high temperature on November first for each school. The one that comes the closest wins!
* Choose a NCAA sport other than football, basketball, baseball, softball, or soccer that you think would be fun to watch. Maybe fencing, or bowling, or rifle. Choose the school with the best record in that sport.
* If you're choosing between four or five schools, write each one down on a strip of paper. Have a friend arrange them in any order without you knowing what the order is. If high school's prepared you for nothing else, it's prepared you for guessing blindly on a multiple-choice question. Choose C: the third strip of paper is your future alma mater!
However you decide, once you've decided, really commit. Donate all your free college t-shirts you got on visits and college fairs--even of the school you chose. Buy yourself a new t-shirt (or sweatshirt or bumper sticker or keychain) to make the symbol more meaningful. If you're still a member of any discussion boards or online groups for schools other than the one you choose, get off them. Throw away or recycle all the marketing materials you've collected. Delete all the marketing emails.
If you're on a wait list and still hoping that things will change, take some control by deciding now what your arbitrary deadline will be for letting go. Freshmen Orientation is a good one. If you're not yet fully committed to the school you say Yes to, decide when you will be.
Good luck with the final few days! Don't forget to tell all your underclassmen friends about Apply with Sanity. They can follow on Facebook or Twitter. I love replying to comments.