Dear high school senior,
As your high school career draws to close, we know you feel the pressure of all the decisions weighing on you. Where will you go to college? How will you pay for it? What will your major be? How will you know which school is the right fit for you?
Take a deep breath.
You don’t have to have every detail of the next few years of your life figured out right now. But with May 1, traditionally known as College Decision Day, drawing near, you do have to make a decision about where you’ll be spending those next few years. It’s a big decision, but it doesn’t have to stress you out.
First of all, it’s time to ask some questions. Do you like large lecture classes or smaller, mentoring style classes? Do you want to live in the city or a more suburban campus? Interested in a particular major? Make sure that program is offered and research the program faculty and alumni. Is close-knit community important to you? Is it important to you to find a college that shares and supports your Christian values? Talk with your parents, high school guidance counselor and other mentors and ask them to help you think through the questions that are most important to you. Identifying these key characteristics will help you to find the college or university that fits your needs and lifestyle.
Once you’ve answered some of those questions, you’ll want to take some time to compare what matters. Is your desired major available? Will the degree program prepare you for the future, grad school or the workforce? Are there opportunities for quality internships or undergraduate research projects?
You’ll also want to count the cost. Maybe you’ve been accepted to several colleges. Now’s the time to sit down with your parents or mentors and talk through your financial aid offers. Gather all of your financial aid and scholarship offers for each school, then review the bottom line for each school. Planning to work while you’re in college, factor that in, too. Don’t be afraid to call financial aid counselors if you have questions or don’t understand something. Finances will probably pay a big role in your decision, so make sure you carefully consider them when making your decision.
Make another visit to campus if you need to. Sometimes, it’s the campus visit that helps you to figure out which college or university “fits.” Experience the on-campus culture and community. Check out a baseball or soccer game. Grab some coffee in a coffee shop or on-campus eatery. Learn about the students, faculty, extracurricular activities and clubs. Most of all, as you tour campus, try to envision yourself living and learning there. Does it fit?
Finally, talk to your parents. While the decision is largely yours, your parents can offer a fresh perspective as you consider the top college contenders on your list. More than that, they can pray with you as you seek guidance for the next big step in your life.
Most of all, enjoy these final days in high school. Don’t get is such a big rush to be done that you miss out on the special moments that mark the end of an era in your life. Make time to hang out with your family and friends. Focus on finishing well. Make some memories that will last a lifetime.
We’ll see you soon enough. Hopefully this letter will make your college decision a little less stressful!
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