Five tips for seniors to help you pick your colleges

May 1 is almost here, the official deadline when seniors must formally commit to the college at which they'll spend the next four years.  If you're in the enviable position of struggling with multiple college choices, here are five tips to help you make a good decision.   

1.  Stop and smell the letters.

I don't mean that you should literally sniff your acceptance letters (that would be ineffective and, well, strange).  But when faced with a number of college acceptances from schools they want to attend, a lot of students forget to celebrate how lucky they are, and some go as far as to lament how stressful it is to have too many choices.  Don't be one of those people.  If you have 2 or 4 or 10 colleges from which to choose, you should celebrate what you've accomplished.  You're going to college.  You get to pick which college you want to attend.  Life is good.   So embrace your options, feel proud that you worked hard enough to earn this, and enjoy the process of deciding where you're going to spend the next four years.

2.  Expect to be uncertain.

A lot of high school students expect that they should be certain of their choice when they decide where to go to college.  We can make this easier: don't expect to be certain.  In fact, expect to be uncertain. Selecting a college is a big decision.  And big life decisions almost always come with some uncertainty (why do you think so many people are nervous on their wedding days?).  You likely won't be sure that you've made the right college choice until you get there, eat some dorm food, and get lost trying to find a class (it happened to all of us).  So if you're feeling unsure about your choice, don't worry; it just means you're giving this big life decision the care and attention it deserves.   

3.  Visit the colleges that interest you most…again.
If you're really interested in attending a college, you've probably visited already.  Visit again.  We know–you only have a few weeks.  Do it anyway.  Take a day off school if you have to.  Unless it's too far (and too expensive) to see again, visiting a college campus after you've been accepted lets you walk on campus and say, "I can be here this fall if I want to be."   It gives you a chance to potentially experience that feeling that you've found your college home.  And if that happens, you're right there on campus and can buy a sweatshirt with your new college's name on it. 

4.  Trust your instincts.
A lot of students will try to weigh the positive and not-so-positive traits of their colleges choices.  They might even seek advice from people they trust.  You should do all of these things.  But in most cases, you can't pro-and-con your way to a college decision.   No matter what the pros and cons are, and no matter what anyone tells you, you are the one who will spend four years at the college you choose.   At some point, your gut instinct has to kick in.   So listen to it.  You'd be surprised how right it usually is.

5.  Remember that there is no such thing as a perfect college.
Great college experiences happen everywhere, including at non-Ivy League schools and at colleges in Delaware.  But there is no college that will be perfect in every way for you.  It's going to be up to you to make your college experience perfect for you. So whatever you do, pick a college where you feel excited to spend four years, a place where you can't wait to go to class, to meet new friends, and to find what college life has in store for you.   If you accept that it will be your responsibility to make the most of your college experience, you'll be a lot more likely to find a school on which you'll look back after four years and feel you made the perfect choice.

And seniors, in case we don't see you back around our blog, congratulations, and have a great time in college…