Making the final decision?

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Registered: 08-06-2009
Making the final decision?
Sat, 09-22-2012 - 9:30am
For those in the college application process it would probably be helpful if we aided them with how we went through the thought process behind making that final School decision. I know the bottom dollar will factor into the picture for sure but what other things did you college student and your family consider. Sometimes we have tough choices to make.  What was the first question after every to ask? How did they eliminate schools?
Avatar for suzyk2118
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Registered: 07-30-1997
Sat, 09-22-2012 - 1:11pm
DS's high school used Naviance which had some great surveys to narrow down the type of U he'd like; stuff like large/medium/small, how international the student base is, urban/rural, men/women ratio, merit based scholarships available, majors offered, grad school majors offered, etc. It helped a ton. I'd think there are types of surveys like that online, so that once students narrow down the type of place, the parents can help guide as far as financial constraints. And then going somewhere like cappex was good to show real life range of values of who made it in (ACT/SAT vs. GPA) vs. what they just quote on U websites.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Sun, 09-23-2012 - 10:48am

Money was definitely a factor in choosing a state univ.  Plus my DD had applied to a small local college & was accepted and pretty good financial aid too--but to afford it she would have had to live at home.  I couldn't see spending an extra $10,000 a year on room & board for her to go to a college that was a 20 min. drive away.  So 1) she didn't want to live at home, 2) she decided she didn't want a college that had fewer students than her high school --she wanted a pretty large school, but not too huge.  She also got accepted at a different branch of the state U that would have been about 1.25 hrs from home where the bigger campus was about 2 hours, so she still would have lived away, but the main campus is much nicer.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-06-2009
Sun, 09-23-2012 - 12:29pm
Did any one go the way of putting together a spread sheet? Did you start one before or after applications?
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Registered: 09-19-2006
Sun, 09-23-2012 - 2:24pm
We started by looking at schools that had good engineering programs. The second consideration was cost. My son narrowed it to 3 and then he applied to those school. Finally, he chose the one he liked best. It didn't seem that complicated to us, I guess as engineers we just think logically - Follow the flow chart to get to the correct result, LOL. Robin
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Registered: 03-22-1999
Sun, 09-23-2012 - 10:11pm

My DD kinda had the "If I don't think about it, it won't happen" thought process going on.  So the visits we went on, I scheduled, and the applications she did, I "encouraged" her to do.  I did not do them for her, but I did do some legwork on dates, etc.  Otherwise, nothing would have happened.  

She did know that she wanted to be relatively close so that she could come home on weekends if she wanted.  She didn't want a huge university, but not something really small.  (Some are even smaller than high schools...who knew?)  

The final decision really was based on scholarship and location.  She applied to 2 schools we hadn't even visited.  We thought they might be a good fit, and if they gave her enough scholarhips money, we'd visit at that point.  (Application was free for one of them because it was private, so we didn't lose much.)  The other 3 were 2 state U's and a private one.  Private school gave the most $$, but since it's $42,000 per year, she still would've been out about $17,000 per year.  That didn't make sense to her when she's planning (at this point) to have to pay for vet school after undergrad.  So it was down to the 2 public U's.  The one that gave her more $$ also cost a bit more, plus it was in the city.  She really didn't want to be "in the city," so the other one was it.  :^)  Both of the schools she didn't pick are located in the city we live near (30-40 minutes), but she didn't want to commute, which would've been a way to save some money.  I don't blame her on the commuting thing, and I'm happy she's getting to live on campus. 

So even though the financial aspects were critical for us, it wasn't the one with the highest scholarship that she chose.  It was a combination of $$, location and size.  

This is her freshman year.  So far she seems really happy there and that it's a good fit.  :^)  So even for the kid who was reluctant to think about it, research anything, or plan, it has worked out.  :^)

I think the main factors for us were knowing that she needed to be in-state for financial reasons and relatively close.  That narrows it down a lot.   (She's an hour an 15 minutes away.)


Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997
Mon, 09-24-2012 - 10:18am

DS knew he wanted to go to a small liberal arts college within 5 hours of home and major in Creative Writing and Spanish. We plugged those criteria and his SAT scores into the Collegeboard search function, got a list of colleges, and then went to all the web sites for each to see what their strengths *really* were.  If the English program didn't have a Creative Writing emphasis, it was out.  We visited 15 schools (about half of them twice).  His two top schools ended up being the ones that were the least conservative and the most LGBTQ-friendly.  He applied early decision to the one that he stood a better shot of getting into and seemed to be a better fit, and is now in his third year there.

17yo DD has a less extensive process.  She wants to major in Music and Film and go to a somewhat larger college or university than DS within 4 hours of home.  There aren't as many highly competitive universities offering both those majors within 4 hours, so she narrowed her list down pretty fast (although a couple of them are Ivies, she eliminated the ones where she thought the student body was too competitive after they got there, or too boring).  Tonight she is doing an overnight at one of them, and next week she's doing an overnight at her top choice (she's already visited twice).  She plans to apply ED to her first choice.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-06-2009
Mon, 09-24-2012 - 11:54am
Interesting to talk about who drives the process. How much does needing to cast a wide net early on in the process affect the process? How many applications were submitted? How many,  3 or 4 of the wide net, are real contenders? what did it take to move on down the line? Were there Really anyone who put schools on the list that really were REAL financial safety schools, schools we can afford without a penny of merit/athletic aid? Did anyone grade aid? How much did the size of a school play into the decisions? With so many college students changing majors did any thought go into selecting schools with a wider breadth of studies?