The Universal Decision Day for HS students heading for college in the fall is only days away and my phone and email messages have increased substantially with questions and requests from nervous students and parents awaiting notice from top choices and trying to decipher award offers. Here are some thoughts on common issues facing students at this time of year.
WAIT LISTS: Some students are being offered a spot on college wait-lists not sure whether to accept the spot. If it is your top choice, you may want to accept the wait-list offer. Often colleges will wait-list you for the fall semester and accept you for the Spring. In this scenario, you have a firm offer of acceptance for the second semester. You can always take classes at a local college in the fall and transfer them to your chosen college for Spring.
TOP CHOICE REJECTION: Other students are not getting in to their top choices. A student who feels strongly about attending a particular college may want to spend a year at his or her #2 choice and re-apply to the top choice college as a transfer. Often it is easier to be accepted as a transfer student than an incoming freshman. Just be sure you are taking General Education courses that would be easily accepted to another institution. This saves you time and money!!
AWARD LETTERS: Award letters admittedly can be confusing. Not all colleges automatically include student or PLUS (parent loans for students) loans, or cost of attendance on the award letter itself. So comparing awards takes a little work. The information should be included with paperwork that accompanies the award letter whether it is a paper or electronic award letter. Look at not only the total amount offered, but the types of aid offered. Is it heavily packaged with loans? Is the student being offered a work-study job? Are there academic or merit scholarships in the mix? What remains to be covered/paid for after subtracting aid from the cost of attendance? How will your family pay the cost that remains?
These questions will guide you to your decision. Hurry though, you only have a few days to finalize your decision.