Making the College Decision

The Anti-Karma of College Admission

Thank you to Teen Life for featuring advice from Christine VanDeVelde in Evaluating College Choices

If your teen has been accepted to several different colleges, first off, Congratulations! They should be very proud of this accomplishment. But now they need to determine which school they will ultimately attend.

How can teens evaluate their college options and determine which school is right for them?

Factors to Consider

Once your teen knows where they have been accepted, they need to compare each school and what it has to offer. A simple pros and cons list of each school can be very helpful.

Christine K. VanDeVelde, journalist and coauthor of the book College Admission: From Application to Acceptance, Step by Step, says, “It has been several months since the teen submitted their application to the school. They need to determine whether each school still lines up with their original goals and whether in these past few months, any of their goals have changed.”

Financial aid packages are an important consideration. Think about all the costs involved – housing, travel, books, etc.

Seniors: No second guessing, no keeping score... and stay committed!

This week we have more great advice for seniors from Mark Moody, Co-Director of College Counseling at Colorado Academy

The most consistent message from our office to students in senior spring is, "Protect your community." Everyone is taking the first steps towards their own journey right now. Next year each of you will be in a place of your choosing, immersed in your own experience. Your opinions of others' choices, and their opinions of yours, aren't really relevant to those decisions. Support each other. Resist the temptation to keep score, or to try to second-guess the complicated, subjective, and unknowable processes by which admission committees arrived at their offers and denials. Don't take disappointment personally, and don't make it personal if someone you know was offered admission to a place you weren't. Enjoy your final weeks of high school, finish strong in the style you're known for, and stay committed to the activities and friendships that have sustained you until now!

Decisions: Do you have the patience...

High school counselor Barbara Simmons joins us today in our ongoing series of reflections, advice and practical guidance for students and parents on all things decisions. Read on to find out how an ancient Chinese text, the Tao Te Ching, also known as "The Way," may offer some guidance: 


Decision – that word even has the sound of  ‘final’ –landing on the suffix of ‘ion’ – ‘zuhn.’ "Decision” originates from the Latin which means “to settle” on something – having cut off other options.

The definitions provided for decision refer to making a judgment – making up one’s mind – and, perhaps like many of you, I frequently have a difficult time making up my mind – even though I know the satisfied and grateful feeling I have when I DO make up my mind.  But the “trick” or “key” to decision-making comes well before the “making up one’s mind".  Decision making has as its foundation knowing our minds well enough to make our minds up, to settle on something without regrets.

Especially for members of the senior class in high school, there ARE decisions that arise in different times in one’s life that must be made when two seemingly VERY GOOD options appear. But it has also happened that two choices appear that would seem to be clearly marked as “good decision” vs. “bad decision” and circumstance might have us choose the seemingly less desirable option.

Best Advice for the Wait List: Part II

We're back with more advice about the wait list. As one of our counselors put it yesterday, being on a wait list is like flying standby. You haven’t been accepted and you haven’t been denied. You’re in limbo, and that can be stressful. But there are some things you can and should do as you decide whether or not to accept a spot on a waitlist and, at the same time, make plans to move forward.

Here's more guidance from the high school college counselors who answered our Question of the Month: "What is your best advice for students who are waitlisted?" 

Rafael S. Figueroa
Dean of College Guidance
Albuquerque Academy
Albuquerque, New Mexico

You need to look at this situation in two different ways, simultaneously.

1.    Pick a college that admitted you.

Tell them you are attending and send in your deposit. Put the colleges that waitlisted you out of your mind. Move on. Get excited about the college you have chosen, and focus on the great experience you will have there.

2.    Don¹t give up on a waitlist college, if you really want to attend.

Let the college know that you remain very interested. Update them on any new information about you that is relevant to your admission. Be patient. Given the way that waitlist offers trickle down the chain of different schools, offers might not come until July or even August.

College Love

John Carpenter has advice for the college lovelorn in this month's guest blog.

Don’t do it.  Don’t fall in love.

It’s the month of love, and you’d have to be blind or an old grump not to see the messages everywhere, brandished in hot pink letters and decorated with cupids and hearts.  I particularly like those little candy hearts that have messages stamped on them such as BE MINE, FOREVER YOURS, and YOU’RE A CUTEY. And of course, because just about everything in this world makes me think of college admissions, February is a month that is also very much connected to what juniors and seniors are going through in that regard. 

For seniors, this short month feels like the longest month, and for juniors, February means watching what seniors are going through while beginning to get serious about their own college search. For both groups, the messages of love are everywhere:  view books, websites, college fairs.  Pick me!  Apply here!  Make us your first choice!  And my message to you:DON’T DO IT. 

Don’t fall in love. 

With a college. 

Not quite yet. 

Guess what, students? You're in Control!

John Carpenter is back this month with some thoughts about who is really in the driver's seat during the college application process. While it might feel like the college admission offices are steering, if you pay attention you'll see that students have the wheel much of the time. Read on and reevaluate what you've been feeling if things are feeling out of control.

One thing I hear constantly from high school kids over and over is that applying to college is stressful.  And psychologists tell us that stress comes from a feeling that we are not in control -- especially the big stuff.  Getting into college falls into the “big stuff” category. But students have more control in this whole process than they may realize. So, let’s analyze that.