I see the scenario play out year after year. The application process is begun with the highest of hopes and dreams. Most students who have selected a reasonable number of colleges and started their applications early will complete them and wait with baited breath for admissions decisions. But there are those who are a little too ambitious and resist trimming down their list of colleges. They begin with the same level of energy as everyone else, but before the last applications are submitted will experience application fatigue. Many will just stop at some point before submitting applications to all the schools on their long list.
It doesn’t matter whether the list of colleges is long or short. When multiple acceptance letters arrive, there is a decision to be made about which offer to accept. If the student did their homework and selected colleges that really capture their interest, the decision can be hard to make. If there is only one favorite college on the list and their reply was a rejection letter, the decision can be both hard and complicated. Either way, by May 1st one of the colleges needs to have confirmation that you will take classes on their campus in the fall.
Something that I find both strange and interesting is the final decision of what college to attend. Every year a handful of my clients will throw me a curve and choose a college that previously seemed to be at the bottom of their list. I never offer an opinion about which college they should select from the ones that sent acceptance letters unless asked. Even then, I will typically provide research about some specific attribute instead of a straight-forward reply about which college I believe is best for them. After all, we spent months working to develop a short list of colleges that would be best for them. Each of us is born an individual. I remind myself of this fact many times a day throughout application season. There are no one size fits all colleges. If there were, college planners would not have a job. There are thousands of colleges for millions of students in the US. It’s a huge jigsaw puzzle just waiting for someone to put the pieces in the right places. I am no puzzle genius but every year when the application process is complete, I get to witness some of the most beautiful and inspirational images of happy families you could ever imagine.