Accepted, now what?

By SARAH SOULE

Colleges and university admission officers are in the process of releasing admission decisions to those who have submitted applications. Some area high school seniors have already heard the outcomes and have learned their fate, while others will soon find out if they have been accepted, denied, or wait listed at the institutions to which they have applied. 

For those students who are admitted to college, take a moment to celebrate this wonderful milestone!  Revel in the accomplishment in gaining admission. Congratulations! For those who are denied, it is perfectly okay to share your dismay, but take the time to focus on those colleges and universities that have admitted you. If waitlisted, please talk to your school counselor about appropriate next steps. 

May 1, 2019 is the universal candidate’s reply date and this is the day when each student who plans on attending college in the fall of 2019 must submit a tuition deposit and enrollment contract to one college or university. Between now and May first, students will likely be inundated with mailings, invitations, offers, and updates from the colleges and universities offering them admission. It is a common question as to how to decide which college to attend. 

If possible, students, along with their parents, should attend Admitted Student Day on campus at the various colleges. Many institutions host receptions at cities around the country, keep an eye out for invitations as some are held in Burlington! These events are an excellent mechanism to further determine if the college or university is a good fit.  They offer opportunities to ask questions and gather additional information. While on campus, students will be able to converse with faculty, staff, administrators, and students.  Some colleges host virtual open houses for admitted students who live too far away to travel to campus. 

The cost of pursuing higher education must always be taken into consideration. It’s key to address any issues or concerns directly with the financial aid offices at the colleges.  Vermont Student Assistance Corporation provides a wealth of information on their website, one of the most helpful is the financial aid awards comparison spreadsheet.  https://www.vsac.org/resources/financial-award-comparison-tool

Families should never dismiss a college or university because of the cost without considering the financial aid award.  Some of the nation’s most expensive institutions have the ability to offer incredibly generous awards. State colleges also offer incentives to encourage students to attend. Students should be actively pursuing scholarship opportunities. Check with the school guidance office for a listing of local scholarships, do a web search and local and national service organizations as there are ample opportunities available. 

As May first looms and the time to make a final decision approaches, students should consider multiple factors: first and foremost, what is the best fit. Does it feel like the right setting in terms of academic offerings, a comfortable place to learn and live, is the geographic location one that is of appeal? Further, what special opportunities will the institution offer you? Internships? Living situation? How is the financial aid? Will you be able to study abroad? Ultimately, can you envision yourself on the campus for four years?  Ask yourself these questions and consider the answers. Review the financial aid offers, revisit the campuses (if possible) and reach out the admissions office with any unanswered questions. In the end, go with your gut feeling. Follow your head and heart, it knows the way! 

Sarah Soule of Shelburne is the Post-Secondary Planning Coordinator at Middlebury Union High School and is a former senior member of the admission staff at Champlain College. She has worked in the field of college counseling for over 35 years. Follow her blog at https://vermontcollegecounselor.blog

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