Guest Post: Making A Final College Decision
Rahul Naik is a former Moon Prep student we guided through the admissions cycle. Now, he has advice for other students who are just beginning their journey.
Here’s the last of my letters regarding the rollercoaster that is the college application process. In this letter, I will discuss acceptances/rejections, as well as making a final college decision.
Waiting for college decisions can usually be even more stressful than submitting the applications themselves. As the clock winds down on the nail-biting seconds until you can view your results, it’s important to remember that you give your best effort in your application. Whether or not a school chooses to accept you or not is entirely out of your control. You have to remain firm and confident in your abilities regardless of the opinion of a school.
Most likely, you will encounter some rejections. That’s completely okay. There’s no way that you’ll be accepted everywhere, and you can’t let the rejections break you. At the end of the day, it’s just a school. You have to believe that you’ll end up where you were meant to go and at that school, you’ll find a community in which you’ll be able to thrive as a person and a learner. Just as you’ll have some rejections, with the best of luck, you’ll also have some acceptances.
These acceptances bring with them financial aid and scholarship packages and a whole host of information from schools wanting to be your final choice. You may also be issued a waitlist option. I would encourage you to accept the waitlist position if it’s for a school that was at the top of your list. I’ve heard of several people get off the waitlist and into prestigious schools such as Washington University in St. Louis, Brown University, and the University of California, Berkeley. However, the acceptance decision after the waitlist may come out even after the May 1st deadline to make a school choice so be sure to make a choice before then so you're aren't left without any school to go to. Additionally, even if you get into a school off the waitlist does not mean you are obligated to accept.
Choosing which school to attend can truly be a tough and emotive decision. For me, the choice boiled down to two schools: the University of Chicago and the University of Texas at Austin. I really struggled to choose for a long time. The biggest factor for my family and I, and I suspect will be an important factor for most families, is the cost to attend the schools. While UChicago is a terrific school, it was even ranked 3rd in the nation by U.S. World News Report, was it worth the price tag of nearly $80,000 a year? I have no doubt that I would’ve found myself right at home at UChicago with a vibrant community of learners taught by renowned faculty.
However, the cost of attendance was truly a burdensome factor. For me, a big deciding factor financially was that I would like to pursue graduate school studies, and I would rather not accumulate a lot of student debt at the undergraduate level. Therefore, attending UT-Austin and the Cockrell School of Engineering, a prestigious engineering school in its own right, while not my first choice, was the right choice for my family and I. I feel confident that at UT-Austin I will also be able to find a supportive academic community with great faculty and an environment that will allow me to further myself.
This decision is a highly personal one, and it’s important that you and your family do a lot of research and converse openly about the various pros and cons for the schools you’re choosing between. Ask questions. A lot of questions. Talk to current students, advisors, teachers, counselors, and other people you trust to gain a better understanding of the choices that lie in front of you. At the end of the day, don’t simply pick a school because its the highest-ranked, or because it has a great sports team. Pick a school because it’s the best fit for you and your family and has a program that will allow you to thrive both as a person and a learner.
I hope you can use this information to bring some clarity to your college selection process.