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Final Decision Precision

Marbles, a hair dryer, Hot Wheels track, a globe, Tinker toys, balloons. These items and others combine to create a contraption by Trey Richardson, a high school senior eager to share his final college decision. Another clever student named Cionne had her own “reveal” celebration, tweeting a photo featuring a sliced cake exposing her choice in Carolina Blue.

Given the extensive preparation, uncertainty, and stress involved with applying to college, I’ve got to say it’s entertaining to see how these students creatively wrap up the whole experience. Decision-making isn’t easy, especially when it’s a decision involving the future and affecting more than just one person. And while teenagers make decisions frequently, some with significant consequences, choosing where to go after high school graduation ranks up there as one of the most momentous. If you are still struggling with your options, and you are this close to tossing a coin in the air or throwing a dart at a board, here’s a few suggestions that may tip the scale for you:


By now you are intimately familiar with your financial aid offers and you may likely be on a first-name basis with more than one financial aid officer. You know what GPA you must maintain to renew your merit scholarships and you know the rate of your loans and which ones are subsidized and unsubsidized (or do you?) – BUT there’s another very important question to ask! Do you know the average percentage that tuition, room, and board increases each year at each of your college choices? Yes, the overall cost of attendance for 2018-19 will likely be less than in 2019-20, by probably around 4% or so, and so on. There are a few schools that offer tuition freezes, but that’s not common. The total cost to attend college is not transparent, unlike a house or car where you know what your total bill will be. So, consider the annual increases when you are calculating your overall investment.


When you completed your applications last Fall, you were younger than you are now. You’ve read more, you’ve learned more, you’ve had more time to think. Examine your options through this new lens. Visit the websites of your colleges and pull up the course catalogs. Dive deep in and carefully review which one offers classes that appeal to you, even if they are not in an area you are considering majoring in right now. Read up on some of the professors and take another look at unique academic programs. Which school will help you expand your interests and push your limits?


If you’ve visited the campuses, read online reviews, and/or talked with friends and family, you probably have a good sense of the social climate of each campus. One more place to look is the online student newspaper at each school. There you’ll get a current update on the activities and concerns on campus. What you read, positive and negative, may sway you!

You’ve made it this far, and it’s likely that if you are still indecisive, it’s because you’ve got some great choices. Congratulations! Here’s hoping you celebrate your final decision in a way that’s just right for you - be it an elaborate contraption, a party, or simply doing a little dance after pressing the accept button!

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