May 1st, the infamous final deadline for college decisions, is quickly approaching. For some seniors, this comes as immense relief. After months and months of applications, writing essays, alumni interviews, and campus tours, the wait will be over and their futures will be decided for the next few years. For those who have not yet made their decision, or are struggling to decide between two top contenders, these next few days will be stressful and frustrating. And as for the lucky few who applied early decision and heard back in December, they will get to sit back and watch their friends suffer in relative sympathy.
For those deciding between two very similar universities, making the choice can be a daunting task, no matter how many pro-con lists they make. But which factors are the most important? How do you decide which college is right for you? Obviously, academics are important, but what if both schools have great academics? Is the deciding factor the food? Or the dorms? The student life? My answer: It’s the feeling you get when you walk around campus. But that one deciding factor may be different for each individual person.
For Caitlin Kwalwasser ‘16, her deciding factor was the so-called “vibe.” “I really loved the academic vibe of UVA much more than that of William and Mary,” she says. “I also liked the fact that at UVA I could meet new people throughout four years because I love making new friends!”
For some, it’s what a college had to offer outside of the classroom. According to Sydney Conway ‘16, who recently decided on UNC Chapel Hill, “Chapel Hill has a really good business program, but there are also a lot of ways to get involved outside of class. Their dance team is awesome, and I get the opportunity to continue dancing in college, which I love.”
For others, the decision unfortunately came down to tuition expenses. “I absolutely loved Georgetown, but my bank account didn’t,” said Helena Klimon ’16. “As much as I would’ve loved to go to Georgetown, I am excited to be going to UVA because it is an excellent university with amazing school spirit and a great culture. In addition, I now have the prospect of graduating with little to no debt.”
The money can’t play too big a part, however. Some seniors, including myself, feel guilty for declining schools who offered them scholarships. This is understandable, because college is expensive, and no one wants to make their parents pay more than they have to.
Conway hesitated to turn down Pittsburgh, and all their scholarship money, in favor of Chapel Hill. “Pittsburgh gave me a really good offer,” she said. “But ultimately I realized that the money doesn’t matter if you won’t be happy there.”
Many seniors opted to go with the less stressful route and apply to their schools “early decision.” This means that their decision to go to that school is binding upon being accepted. With this application, you have to make the daunting decision sooner, but you get the added bonus of knowing where you are going as early as December.
“At the beginning of the application process, my top choices were Villanova, UVA, and Tech and, after visiting all three, I knew that I liked Virginia Tech the best, so I applied early decision and got in! I was glad to be done with college stuff so early… It’s much less stressful,” explained DJ Schoen ‘16.
So what advice should juniors take away from this? Don’t stress yourself out. Yes, the application process can be long and scary, but you are more than capable of meeting all your deadlines. Relax, because ultimately you will get into some great schools, and you will end up at the right place for you. And if it’s not the right place for you, just wait. It will be.
Featured image of courtesy of Paul VI senior Sydney Conway.