It’s that time of year! Decision time! For those of you who will be attending college next year (class of ‘26 I see you!), you’ll probably be looking out for your decision letters, emails, and packages over the next few months. Furman just released its early decision (ED) acceptance notifications, and those early action (EA) decisions will be out before you know it! All the excitement and anticipation of getting your college decisions tend to come with some stress, anxiety, and disappointment mixed in as well. For many of us, making the decision of where to attend college was very difficult. I mean, I applied to 14 schools in all! So, it’s important that you take some key steps to ensure that you don’t let this exciting (and stressful) time get the best of you! Here are a few tips on how to navigate the college decision process…
- It’s YOUR decision
- It’s OK not to know yet
- Stay open-minded
- Perfect doesn’t exist
- Cut yourself some slack
1. It’s YOUR decision
To begin with, it’s important that you remember it’s YOUR decision. Yes, it’s good to listen to the advice that your parents, mentors, or teachers provide, but ultimately you’re the one who will be attending this university for 4 years. Talk things through with others, but listen the most to the voice in your own head. Attending a college simply because someone else–such as a friend, family member, or another important person in your life–wants you to isn’t always the best idea. If you fail to listen to your own preferences, you might end up somewhere that doesn’t feel quite right. All in all, you’re the most important judge; make sure you listen to your wants AND needs!
2. It’s OK not to know yet
With all this talk of decisions, you might be thinking that you’ll never be able to decide. There are so many great universities out there, and you’re probably having a little trouble picking your home for the next 4 years. At Thanksgiving, you probably had at least three family members ask “So, where are you going to college? Have you decided yet?” Or, you might have friends that already know where they’re going. In this, I’m sure you feel the pressure. A lot of people are excited for you and want to know your decision, but I’m here to tell you that it’s OK not to know yet. It’s OK to still be weighing your options and making sure that you’re ready. Honestly, I didn’t make my final decision until the end of my senior year of high school. And that was OK because I found the BEST place for me in Furman.
So, take your time, build up your confidence, and then decide when you know you’re ready!
3. Stay OPEN-minded
When you get a letter in the mail, it might not say exactly what you want it to. Maybe you didn’t get into a college that you hoped you would. Or, maybe you got into a college but you’re having doubts about it because it wasn’t your top choice. Either way, one of the best pieces of advice I can give is to stay open-minded. Don’t shut yourself off from an opportunity to attend a great college because you had a bad tour, heard something negative about it, or didn’t consider it as a top choice to begin with. Overall, there’s really not a bad choice in a university. I suggest that you give out second chances and stay open to new possibilities. Maybe take a tour of a university that was once at the bottom of your list or re-tour one that you had a bad experience with. You might find your place is somewhere you never expected!
4. Perfect doesn’t exist
A lot of different factors play into college decisions. Maybe you want to attend a school near home, or maybe you can’t wait to explore the other side of the country. You might want to attend a big state school, but a small liberal arts college might also be more your speed. The cold, northern climate might be calling your name. But, the southern warmth might seem nice too. I could go on and on, detailing the many characteristics that spell out the PERFECT college. But, to be completely honest, perfect doesn’t exist; there are good, bad, and mediocre things about every college. You’re likely not going to find somewhere that checks all of your boxes, and this is OK. In the end, finding the perfect place for you comes down to where you feel the most comfortable. Go somewhere where you’ll feel supported, have opportunities, and thrive. I found my perfect place in Furman, and I know you’ll find your perfect place too!
5. Cut yourself some slack
Finally, the most important tip of all: cut yourself some slack! Navigating the college admissions process is NOT easy. It can be very stressful and overwhelming at times. You are likely terrified of letting yourself down. But, you won’t let yourself down. Give yourself some credit; you know what’s best for you, and you have the capability to make an amazing decision. It’s ok to take a moment to catch your breath and really think things through. You’ve got this!
If you want to chat with me about the decision process, I’m always here to talk things through. Please, don’t be afraid to send me a message. I want to help in any way I can!
I believe in you!
–Best wishes, Logan–
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