Finding Colleges That Call Your Name
You've done the legwork, you're ahead of the game and all your applications were in before the deadlines! Right?Right! If you cast a net that is a proper distance wide, you'll be fortunate enough to find yourself with an exception letter from more than one of the colleges you have reached out to. In this dating game, there can be only one winner, and it'll walk away with your future. So how can you narrow down your choices?
The Money - unless you walk among the select few, it is a given that the cost of the institution you plan to attend will be a factor. Even if you do qualify for a good size loan, it isn't all fun and games. One day, Future You will have to pay all that back. Pull all the financial aid and grant options available for each of the colleges that accepted you, and do a side by side comparison. This is great information to keep front of mind as you do the rest of your analysis.
The Data - there are official college rankings nationwide. If you haven't already delved into these, take a look. This, however, shouldn't take the place of specifics, as a college that is perfectly suited to your own needs is worth more than what metrics overall consider to be top notch.
Your Why - take a look back at any notes you had on these colleges and why you wanted to attend. Are these things still important to you know? Does everything you love about it still apply? Have you changed your idea for a major? Does this school have what you need now? If not, gingerly remove it from the running.
The Place - if you haven't already toured these campuses, do it now! And if you have? Go back. Pop by at odd times of night if you can, just to see what the environment is like. It is good planning to get a peek at things at a time that is not specifically set up for tours. This gives you a glimpse of what real-life hustle might be like at that school.
The People - do you know someone that is already there? Have a parent or family member that once attended? Vaguely know a teacher? While knowing someone already isn't a must, it can help to get some insight, make some connections right away, and up your comfort level. A bad idea would be to follow a significant other to a school that does not suit you. Or only attending because a parent did. This is one of the first giant steps you'll be taking to walk your own path, if you're just following someone else's map you aren't making your own.
The Backup - while it is important to have everything lined up for your area of focus, consider also that you may end up wanting to change majors, add a minor, or even engage in a work-study program somewhere in the area that might help you find job placement in a certain field. Dig into all these options at your chosen schools, and see which has the best array. This will mean that should your plans change, you may be able to make some moves without switching schools.