College Decision Making
I help students and families make sound decisions about how to compare colleges and decide which one best meets the needs of the student. Below is some information that can help families navigate the decision making process.
Types of Responses to College Applications
Accepted – This is the goal so that options and opportunities can be explored.
Deferred Admission—This is a potential response to an early application. This response would typically release a student from being required to attend the school if admitted under the Early Decision application process. The school would reevaluate the applicant in the Spring under this response. This response is not the same thing as being on the waitlist. It is more hopeful than that.
January (Spring Term) Admission—Some colleges admit freshmen to begin study in the middle of the academic year. January admission may be an option worthy of investigation for students who might graduate a term or semester early from high school. (In Florida, some students are admitted to the Summer term and start earlier than students admitted in the Fall.)
Wait List—This is an admission decision that postsecondary institutions use to protect against shortfalls in enrollment. Wait lists are sometimes made necessary because of the uncertainty of the admission process. Students apply to multiple institutions and may receive several offers of admission, which makes it challenging for schools to determine how many admitted students will choose to enroll. By placing a student on the wait list, an institution neither offers nor denies admission. Rather, it extends the possibility of admission in the future, before the beginning of the school year.
Denied—The school does not admit the student. In the case of highly selective schools, this is frequently the sign of there not being enough space for the applicant. It does not mean that the applicant could not easily graduate from the school. Some appeals of denials may succeed, but that is generally not the case.
Other Relevant College Application Terms
Open Admission—Some colleges do not practice selective admission and offer admission to virtually all students who apply. Open admission colleges usually have extensive programs designed to provide remedial or developmental help to students who enroll with academic deficiencies.
Tuition Deposit—Schools want financial evidence that a student will follow through if a student indicates that he or she intends to enroll. Colleges typically let accepted applicants learn the decisions of all colleges they have applied to before requiring tuition deposits, provided that all decisions are made by May 1. The student, in turn, is obligated to submit a tuition deposit to only one college before its required deadline (usually May 1, frequently June 1 because of COVID-19).
Here is a tool from the College Board/Big Future website to help you compare schools: https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/compare-colleges.
Comparing Financial Award Offers
Families are encouraged to look at: the cost after all grant aid is factored in, the affordability of the loans, the ability to work the hours involved in the work-study job, and any unmet need. The College Board/Big Future website provides an online option for comparing award packages: https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/pay-for-college/tools-calculators.