April 3, 2019 By College Ave Student Loans

7 Things to do Before Decision Day

After months of preparation, SAT and ACT tests, and admissions essays, your senior year is finally winding down. You’re approaching a huge milestone in your life: choosing where to go to college. Getting into college — and maybe even multiple schools — is a huge accomplishment, and you should be proud of what you’ve achieved.

But, before you start celebrating, you have a decision to make. May 1 — National Decision Day — is an official day for those who have not yet made a college decision to commit to a particular school. It’s when schools will expect you to respond to your acceptance letters, make your final choice, and send in your deposit.

While you’re about to make a huge decision, it’s important to not let yourself get overwhelmed. Instead, take some steps to prepare for Decision Day so you can make an informed choice ahead of the deadline.

1. Put together your short-list

Hopefully, by now you’ve narrowed your list of potential schools down to two or three colleges. If not, create a list of school must-haves and deal breakers. Then, go through your acceptance letters and see which schools meet your criteria. For example, if a school has to be within 100 miles of your home, you’d eliminate all schools beyond that limit. Some factors to consider include:

  • Distance from home
  • Climate
  • School size
  • Average classroom size
  • Ability to live on-campus
  • Amount of financial aid

Keep combing through the acceptance letters and eliminating schools until you have just two or three options left.

2. Go on a final campus tour

If you’re torn between schools, try to schedule one last campus tour. Seeing the schools in person — even if you’ve been there before — will help jog your memory and give you a sense of how you’d fit in on campus. If possible, see if you can spend the night in the dorms at the school. It will give you a firsthand experience of a typical student’s day.

3. Ask any last-minute questions

Now is the time to reach out to the potential schools to clarify any last-minute questions you have. Reach out to the school admissions or financial aid offices to get the answers you need to make a decision, such as:

  • Are school scholarships a one-time award, or are they renewable?
  • How many students graduate within four years?
  • How many of the classes are taught by a professor, and how many are taught by a teaching assistant?
  • Are students usually able to take their first choice courses?
  • Is it easy to change your major?
  • How many roommates will I have?

4. Determine what makes the most financial sense

Take a look at your short-list and determine which schools makes the most financial sense. The school you choose could affect how much you need to borrow in the form of student loans, which can impact your life after graduation.

When reviewing school offer letters, look beyond the cost of tuition and room and board. Consider how much you’d have to pay out of pocket after scholarships and grants. A more expensive school may be the cheaper option after taking into consideration a more generous financial aid package.

5. Evaluate financial aid needs

Once you’ve reviewed your financial aid packages, know how much you’d need to borrow in federal or private student loans. In some cases, you may not receive enough aid to cover the full cost of attendance with federal loans, and will need to take out private student loans to fill the gap.

If that’s the case, it’s a good idea to apply early to ensure you get the money on time. With College Ave, you can take out a loan for as much as 100% of the cost of attendance, including books, tuition, fees, housing, and other expenses.

6. Pick a major

Your choice of major can be a significant factor in your decision, as some schools specialize in certain fields. Once you choose a major, you can further narrow down your list to a school that fits your needs.

If you’re undecided on what to major in just yet, that’s okay! Look for a school with a strong liberal arts program where you can knock out the core curriculum and electives early on, so you can make a choice later on and still graduate within four years.

7. Choose the right school for you

After going through the previous steps, you’ll be ready to select one school as your final choice. Once you’ve made your choice, notify the selected school about your decision. Your acceptance letter will include details on how to do so, but, in general, you’ll need to submit a signed letter with your first deposit.

If you’ve been accepted to other schools, it’s a good idea to notify them about your decision, so they can free up a place for students on their waitlist.

What if I miss the deadline?

While many schools honor Decision Day, not all schools abide by it. Contact your selected school’s admissions office to find out what their deadline is for student decisions.

If you miss the school’s deadline, reach out to the admissions office as soon as possible. If there are any extenuating circumstances, such as an illness, that cause you to miss the deadline, be sure to explain it to them. In some cases, they may still be able to accept you as an incoming student.

Choosing a college

Choosing a college is a huge decision. If you’re struggling with making a decision, follow the above tips to help narrow down your options. Above all, remember that this is a wonderful moment in your life, as you’re about to embark on an incredible journey. It’s scary but be confident that you’ve made the right choice for you.