The agony of indecision is over for seniors
LEE SHULMAN BIERER
D-day, or Decision Day, or what is formally known as National Decision Day, May 1, is finally in the rear-view mirror.
Some high school seniors were accepted at their dream schools and put down their deposit before putting down their acceptance letters. Other students have struggled with their decisions, and parents have agonized over the financial implications of the different offers.
How does a student decide?
I reached out to twins Matt and Maura Boerio, seniors at Providence High School in Charlotte who both had multiple offers and difficult decisions.
Matt started out early in junior year, with a long list of nearly two dozen colleges. Through research and campus visits, he narrowed his choices to a balanced final list of seven.
In the end, he faced the challenging task of choosing between the University of Virginia, UNC Chapel Hill and Wake Forest. He had visited them all prior to applying, and then revisited each of them on Accepted Student Days. About a week or so ago, he made the final decision to attend the University of Virginia.
“On the first go round I was more focused on seeing what the school values and trying to figure out what I needed to do to increase my chances of acceptance. However, once I was accepted, I visited the schools looking for my best ‘fit.’ This time, I was more concerned with what the schools had to offer me and how well I would fit in with the environment.”
I asked Matt about the role his choice of major had in his decision. He said, “I put a lot of weight into my expected major while researching various colleges. I intend to major in business, and I was set on going to a top business school. I would recommend looking a colleges with a few majors in mind because the academic strength differs among different departments. At UVA, I know if I don’t like business, I can pursue a degree in law or politics.”
Maura ended up applying to eight schools. When it came time to make a final decision, she felt she could be very happy, for different reasons, at three: Wake Forest, Villanova and Rice.
After revisiting Rice, she was convinced it represented the best fit for her. She said, “Before I experienced the college search process, I felt as though it would be difficult for me to find a school that had the academics, spirt, size and environment that I wanted. So I was overwhelmed when I was accepted at three schools that all exceeded my criteria. I researched all three extensively, but later realized that my determining factor was something that could not be found on paper.
“When I revisited Rice, I listened to a panel of faculty speak about their classes, and never before had I felt such a strong desire to join these classes as soon as possible and get to know these wonderfully quirky professors. I also listened to a panel of students and the same thing happened. I could tell that these students had the same passion for learning that I did and I immediately realized that I would be so happy to spend time with them, take classes with them and live with them. I looked past the statistics and facts and fell in love with the people.”
Maura passed along this advice to sophomores and juniors: “Visit as many schools as possible. The difference between a school and its perceived appearance on paper can be striking.” She added, “in fact, I had ‘assumed’ through middle school and most of high school that I loved a particular school, but after visiting it, I realized it wasn’t a good fit at all.”
Things happen for a reason. I know I may sound Pollyanna-ish, but I truly believe students end up, almost always, right where they belong. The final choice can be hard but if you believe there is no one “perfect” school, trust your gut and have a good attitude, you’ll likely be at your first choice school very soon.
Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte. Send questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org; www.collegeadmissionsstrategies.com