We are almost 1 week from the May 1 deposit deadline, and many seniors are still evaluating their college options. I have talked to several clients, both students and parents, in recent weeks who were hoping for an aha moment when they attended colleges’ accepted student open houses. For many, the aha moment never arrived. Unfortunately, some families feel disappointment when this light bulb of clarity never illuminates their path during college visits. Of course the disappointment can be understood as students often feel overwhelmed by their college choices and confused by their own reactions to the advantages and drawbacks that each college opportunity could present.
In fact, while most families expect the arrival of college acceptances to signify the light at the end of the application process tunnel, sometimes a period of darkness, full of confusion, limitless “what ifs”, and indecisiveness, comes before a confident college decision can be made. This experience is completely normal, and families should embrace it as a time to explore and discover college options. Accepted students should do whatever they can to find the clarity they need: visit campuses, talk to current students, faculty and administrators at the colleges you are considering, discuss your thoughts and concerns with your family and college counselor and get answers. Own the final leg of the college application process race, and do whatever it takes to get to the decision finish line.
Realize that most colleges will offer exciting benefits, and there will also be drawbacks. No college, like anything, is perfect. The question students need to ask is “When can I bend and when will I break?” In other words, students need to identify when they can compromise and when they cannot. No one can make this decision for a student. And perhaps, that is the hardest part of all. This choice, this next chapter, is one that students need to ultimately define themselves.
The light at the end of the tunnel is not far. Accepted students should take any steps they can to find it and find it with peace.