Welcome back from Spring Break! Most seniors have heard from their colleges, and we welcome hearing your news (in other words, please let us know!!) As predicted, record numbers of applicants have been raising the stakes for everyone and driving admission rates to record lows. The colleges aren’t “better” and they are not taking fewer students—in fact, for the most part they are admitting the same number of students as they did ten years ago, but as the numbers of applicants increase, the percentages decrease—well you know the math! For example, the University of Michigan has more than doubled their application rate over the last 10 years, receiving a record 64,000 applicants, but their freshman class has been steady at between 6000-6600 in that same time period. We’re happy to report that once again Roeper students are beating the odds and every one of you has been admitted to at least one college where you will grow and thrive—including several highly selective colleges and scholarship winners! You can all be very pleased with how hard you have worked and how well prepared you will be next fall.
Once the shock or glow wears off, there is the reality that the future is upon us. It’s important to remember that the process of college admissions, while taking over much of your senior year, is just a means to an end—the beginning of the rest of your life! Students who followed our advice to “make every college a first choice” when choosing where to apply have found that the process still works, that they have excellent choices to make, and will welcome May 1 with a sense of relief and satisfaction.
We’re hoping that you have taken to heart our words that your worth is not defined, for better or worse, by your college admission. If a college thought you were not a good fit, you would probably not be happy or successful there. If they thought you were, on the other hand, IT IS UP TO YOU TO DECIDE WHETHER YOU THINK SO, TOO! You are not obligated to attend a college just because they are calling you, offering you money or sending you free T-shirts! The reason you have about a month to decide is because you want to think clearly and objectively about a choice that will impact your future in so many ways—not only your further education, but your lifelong friends, colleagues and fellow alums, your living space, your career opportunities—and the amount of debt you may incur! This is a fork in the road like no other that you have taken, well, at least since you chose to attend Roeper.
And speaking of that choice, think once more about why you chose Roeper (or why you stayed if the choice was made for you when you were young). Was it the “name,” the “prestige,” the “heavy recruitment,” or because it spoke to you in a special way that allowed you to become the best person you could be? If you think of your college choice in the same way, you will be less likely to have second thoughts.
Here are some things to think about as you make your “final” decision:
–Forget about the colleges that you will not be attending. Move on to the positive choices you have. If you were waitlisted at a college you would still consider, go ahead and accept your position on the waitlist, but then move on: send a deposit to a college by May 1—and get excited about your choice! Think of it like the Publisher’s Clearinghouse—you may send it in, but don’t wait by your inbox or mailbox for the email or letter that may or may not come, because the odds aren’t much better. My experience is that most students who do get in to a waitlisted school are over it by then, and choose to attend the school that wanted them in the first place.
–Think about the qualities you first were looking for as you considered different colleges—the size, the location, the campus itself, the faculty, the general atmosphere or “feel” of the college. Once more compare these qualities among your choices. For fun, you could check the College Prowler website https://colleges.niche.com for a few dimensions of comparison, or pick up a copy of the Yale Insider’s Guide if you are having a hard time deciding.
–Visit the college campus. If you possibly can, attend with your parent(s) an admitted student event; sit in on a class, talk to current students—look really deeply into what life on that campus will be like. Even if you have already been there, you are in a completely different position now—before you were an applicant—now you are the customer. It’s their turn to convince you –be picky! And besides, what was important to you when you started this process may be different now. Look with a clear head.
–On the other hand, most students that are happy at their college report that the ultimate deciding factor was—their heart! They just knew that this was the right place for them. You already know you have the right credentials to be successful, so trust your heart and your instincts! Love your choice!
–Have a family discussion. Debrief after your visit and compare memories and impressions. Your parents want you to be successful and happy, so get their input on whether they can see you there.
–And have a frank talk about finances one last time. Are you prepared for the expense of college for the entire four years, or just year one? If you are deciding between two colleges and one is slightly beyond reach, it’s ok to call the admissions and financial aid offices to let them know that. It may or may not make a difference, but it won’t hurt to ask. And if every college is truly a “first choice” finances make help to make the final decision easier.
Finally, your parents and the colleges have already weighed in. Now this is YOUR choice, your life, your future. And even if you make the best choice you can for all of the right reasons, and decide after you’ve been there that it isn’t the right college for you, remember—it is not a prison sentence! You can change your mind! You can transfer! Your life is ahead of you, and you’ve already proven that you have a good mind and good values, so whatever you choose, take a leap of faith and know that you will be ok!
Patricia Bostwick, MA, LPC
Director of College Counseling