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Things to consider before making that big college decision by May 1st.

by Lighthouse College Planner John Groleau – CCPS, MSFS
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Seniors – 2016 Grads:
There are several key points to consider with regards to making college decisions as we get down to the wire when colleges want to know by May 1 if you’re attending or not.
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  1. Housing deposits. I just recently discovered that the current wisdom is to NOT to send in housing deposits UNLESS you know for sure which school you’ll be attending or you’re aware that there is a housing shortage on campus (i.e. DePaul U. in Chicago). If you do send in your deposit, make sure it’s refundable. We have just recently found out that if you appear too “eager”, the schools will believe that you’re “hooked” and therefore don’t need to offer you any additional enticements to attend. This tactic will work especially if you’ve made the admission counselors, dept. heads, and financial aid officers your “best buddies” right up until the application process is complete.

After that point, let them sweat it out and wonder why you’ve fallen off the grid. Let them contact you and find out if you’re still interested.

  1. 2nd campus visits. If you haven’t already done an “overnight/class shadow” visit, now is the time to do that. I strongly recommend school-728344_1280.jpgyou make 2nd visits to at least the top 3 colleges on your list. This will give you an opportunity to experience campus life and sit in on some classes. I suggest that you sit in on the freshman/sophomore survey classes rather than the upper level classes. It’s important that you experience what it’s like in an auditorium with several hundred students. This is also the time when you want to pull out the “Questions to ask upper classmen in your major” so you can get the answers you need to know…not just the information the admission folks want you to hear. You may not be allowed to attend an overnight experience at state universities unless you’ve been accepted. If you’re looking to play sports, make sure you also meet the coaches and the team members and ask them the appropriate questions. They just don’t have the room or the money to let everyone on campus for such things. And as always, be sure to write the answers and any other observations, thoughts, and feelings down on your college visitation guide that you can download from the ENGUS website.

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I have been hearing this comment from a lot of 2017 families: “My student is getting inundated with emails and letters from all kinds of colleges. What do we do?”
I would recommend the following:

  1. Reply back within 24-48 hrs. and thank them for their interest. If it’s a school that’s on your radar, go to the website and get registered. Remember the point system!!
  2. Do not delete any emails. You never know what will happen down the road to your child’s current college/career interest. It may change…just like the weather. Also, some colleges may offer to waive the application fee if you respond to the email.
  3. For the “snail mail” correspondence, I would: a. purchase a banker’s box that will hold hanging folders, b. get some hanging folders with labels and label them by state and depending upon your concentration of colleges, additional folders for private and state schools, c. Then also get some manila folders labelled for each college to put in the hanging folders.
  4. For email correspondence, set up folders in a similar way on your email browser; namely one folder per state, with sub-folders for private and state schools with sub-folders for each college. You also want to save and file all outgoing correspondence to the colleges.