So you’ve spent months anxiously awaiting your acceptance letters. You finally receive them and, surprise! You got into both of your dream schools! Once you’re over the initial shock of the good news, it’s time to decide. While going to two schools at once might sound fun, you’ll obviously have to pick one. Here are some tips to help you out!
1. Start with a pros and cons list
Making a pros and cons list is a great starting point but, when deciding between two great options, it might take a more thorough investigation. After making a pros and cons list for both schools, try making a separate list for yourself, and sort factors you’re considering such as social life, location, and cost from most important to least according to your preference. This might take some introspection, but having a guide to your own preferences will make comparing the good and bad things about each school even more helpful. Focus on what you value in your life now, as well as what you're looking to add as you pursue your goals.
2. Visit each campus
After doing some research on both schools, it’s a good idea to visit each school, especially if you haven’t stepped foot on campus before. While the advice may sound cliché and overused, it’s often given for a reason. It really does work! There’s just something about the feeling you get when you step foot on campus that all the stats and lists in the world can’t replace. And remember to trust your instincts because sometimes they might surprise you! Brand names and awards shouldn't be the only factors you use to make your decision, because awards won’t make you happy for the next 4 years. Remember you’re not just looking for a mark on your resume. You’re looking for a place you can create a network to build on for the rest of your life.
Bari Norman, founder and president of Expert Admissions, says, "I recommend revisiting both campuses and staying overnight in the dorms with a first-year student; try to go at a time where you can get a sense of how hard people are working and also how hard they're playing. Both are extremely important. I think familiarizing yourself as much as you can with the people and the vibe of each school is essential to assessing fit. And at any stage in the college process, always try to talk to "regular kids," meaning not admissions tour guides; they're your best source of honest information."
3. Consult friends and family
After visiting both schools, you’ll have a better picture of how each one fits with your personality and your vision for your future. Maybe your decision will be easy from here and you’ll already have ruled one out. But, if you’re still stuck, consider asking your family for advice, especially those who visited the school with you. Getting advice from someone with an outsider’s perspective may help you see points you otherwise wouldn’t have noticed.
When I was deciding which university to attend, talking with my grandmother helped me to consider things I never would have thought of on my own, such as convenience to things like grocery stores and public transportation. We toured several schools in LA and went over the location and benefits of each one. She asked questions on the tours about amenities and on campus social activities. I was definitely glad to have her along since I was way too shy at the time to ask questions like that. Ultimately though, remember that this is your decision and don’t be afraid to stand up for the things that matter most to you, whether that’s a great science program or a great social life. If you have a valid reason for something you’re passionate about, let your family know, even if they might not understand at first.
4. Think back to why you love each school in the first place
Finally, if you still haven’t decided using the above methods, try reflecting on what attracted you to each school in the first place. If you’ve been dreaming of attending this school because your 9th grade crush was wearing their sweatshirt, that might be a helpful piece of information to consider. And don’t forget to account for the fact that plans can always change. Who knows, you might get to your dream school and realize you want to change your major to a completely different field. Try thinking about the bigger picture of the school as a whole. According to Norman, it's important to focus on the long term.
She says, "I think when choosing between two places you think you love equally, you have to mentally pull yourself out of high school and think about what will make you happiest in the long term."
Ask yourself questions like, do they support their students beyond graduation? And, do they provide a well-rounded education with a focus on the student as a whole? These are the things that will benefit you no matter what program you end up choosing. And in all the chaos, don’t forget to congratulate yourself for a job well done!
Choosing schools can be a difficult decision but remember that, no matter where you end up going you'll thrive and find a way to make the most of the experience.