Still Deciding On College?

My Alma Mater, Fordham University

Decision Day Advice!

It’s been a long year for high school seniors and their parents. The emotion, drama, hype – the hushed conversations while avoiding that question, “So what college is so and so going to?” Take it from someone who’s been there, this too shall pass and in many ways, with the halo of high school over, things get better. I’ve developed a list of considerations before you choose:

  • ‘Dream’ School – Your child is steering the way and they are the only ones who will make their dreams come true. Certain schools will open a few more doors but perseverance, grit, determination and hard work will be the final barometers for success. Rejection at a dream school means dreams can be realized elsewhere.
  • Brand Name – Ever since I vied for those Jordache jeans, I’ve been acutely aware of the allure of the “brand” and the fact those jeans never fit well. An education should not be reduced to the shallow allusion of a “brand.” College is a big business, so shop wisely and don’t shell out your hard earned money for a “name” that may not offer your child their major or the best opportunities. If Harvard comes knocking that’s fine but with 5% acceptance rate the majority of us won’t be wearing Harvard sweatshirts.
  • Major is not a Minor Matter – At this stage of the game, you know if your child will be heading off to major in Neuroscience. Students need to think about what courses they’ve enjoyed and been successful at. There are many resources and career aptitude tests out there that can help chart a course. This could save tons of angst when your child discovers they want to be a Marine Biologist and there is no program at their school. A little homework can provide insight into a potential major and the type of institution they should attend.
  • Curriculum – College is school! I’m sure “senioritis” has hit and their attitude will make you wonder if they realize they are signing up for four more years! I made my daughter review the courses she would take at the schools she was choosing between. Many colleges have core curriculums so a review of those required classes is essential!
  • Waitlisted – Start a “campaign of interest!” Call, send a letter or email with news such as awards or achievements or just let them know you are still interested! Do not take this personally; colleges are overburdened with way too many qualified applicants. Though some schools pull only a few students off the waitlist, without the effort, you’ll never know.
  • Money Matters – With the skyrocketing cost of college, it’s important to consider all offers! Now is the time to call and/or write an appeal.
  • Raise Your Hand – Interested in a special program (such as Art or Music)? Encourage your child to call the department or visit. Some departments need students, this may help advance their application or gain aid.
  • Visit – Get rid of preconceived notions. After a while, info sessions/tours start to blur, visit and get a feel for the students. Ask your child if they can picture themselves at the school.

College is just the beginning of more hard work ahead. Change is imminent. Their decision may be spot on or they may transfer. What won’t change is their drive and ambition. They should seek out the best opportunities tailored to meet their goals.


  1. mary ellen says

    Thanks Vilma, I love reading all of your columns. This really is a stressful time.

    • Thanks for reading Mary Ellen! I agree but once the decision is made there will be some relief…until you drop them off but that’s another article!

  2. Thanks Vilma. You’ve lined it out perfectly. Can’t believe it’s starting again.

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