I’ve met a lot of families that make significant mistakes in the college planning process—making up their minds before knowing the facts, or falling in love with the first school that accepts them.
Unfortunately, that can be costly.
Because college is such an expensive game, you mustn’t let an emotional connection to a particular school rule your decision-making. With that being said , if you’re certain where you want to go and you’re applying for Early Decision, you’re essentially giving up your right to make a decision financially, and agreeing to attend—whatever it costs—if accepted.
For everyone else, keep emotion out of the equation.
I know . . . easier said than done. You’re dealing with a stressed-out teenage brain feeling the weight of their entire future on their shoulders. What you have to do is keep your desire for instant relief in check . . . “Phew! I got accepted. I know where I’m going to school. I know what I’m going to major in. They accepted me, and I’m going there no matter what.”
But the process for making a decision about college should be a data gathering process. What I mean by that, is, you can’t expect that an acceptance or rejection letter is the end.
Admission is the beginning of a new phase in the college selection process—collecting all of the information necessary to make a sound decision.
You must be patient, an extraordinary challenge for the modern teenager. We are in the “instant gratification,” “now,” “Amazon” era where you can click a button and have what you want the very next day.
The college process shouldn’t work that way.
You will get acceptances from January through March and beyond. You’ll get financial aid awards February through April. Colleges have a vested interest in getting you the information as quickly as possible, especially if they’re giving you financial aid, but as Plutarch said, “Time is the wisest of all counselors.”
Until you have all of the data from all of the schools, it is virtually impossible to make a sound financial decision. Make yourself wait. Nothing has to be declared until May 1, National College Decision Day.
There are two keys to making a sound college selection. One, make sure you select a variety of schools you’d be happy to attend. Don’t apply if you know you won’t want to go. And two, wait to collect all of the acceptances and all of the financial aid awards before you give any school a final decision.
It would be a shame to start your future at a school that costs $60,000 when you get accepted at a different, but equally great school that costs half that.
“Once you learn patience, your options suddenly expand.” —Robert Greene