The colleges have made their decisions and now students are in the driver’s seat. By May 1 they must notify the college they choose to attend.
All students, even those who received notification that they are on a college’s wait-list, must send in a deposit somewhere by May 1 to assure they will have a spot in the freshman class.
If your student was accepted to more than one of his or her reach or target schools and is having a tough time deciding, count yourselves among the lucky ones. Now is the time to revisit colleges and really kick the tires to determine which school is the best fit.
Some colleges that accepted your child will be very aggressive in trying to influence your decision. Your student will no doubt be the recipient of much college paraphernalia (magnets, bumper stickers, etc.) and may even be swamped with emails and calls.
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Colleges aspire to increase their yield rate, i.e., the number of students who accept their offer of admission. Harvard’s yield rate in the 2014 Princeton Review Best 378 Colleges is listed at 80 percent. That means that four of every five students who were accepted to Harvard chose to go there. Most colleges would be pleased with a 50 percent yield. The point here is that once a college accepts a student, it is in the college’s self-interest to encourage the student to attend.
One of the ways colleges reach out to accepted students and their families is through “Accepted Students Days.” These are often full-day visitation programs starting in March and running through April. These visits provide a wonderful opportunity for a first-time visit for some and greater clarification for others.
Colleges typically plan a day that includes a student panel, student organization fairs, financial aid discussions and tours. Students can often shadow a college student, sit in on a class, meet with a professor or coach and get a better sense of the vibe on campus.
If you decide to attend an Accepted Student Day, come prepared with questions for: students, professors and staff in student activities, religious life, the career services center and the financial aid office. If you anticipate needing any special services due to learning disabilities or health-related issues, meet with the appropriate personnel.
Above all, look around and see if the other students look like you. Judy Robinovitz, founder and co-owner of Score at the Top Learning Centers and Schools, recommends paying attention to how the other students are dressed.
“That may sound very shallow, but feeling socially comfortable is almost more important than being academically comfortable, because I think that most students can choose their courses wisely enough to make them feel academically comfortable. If you seek homogeneity, make sure that the students are enough like you, and if you seek diversity, make sure they’re different enough from you.”