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These are the moments when decisions need to be decisive. Make it count. Image Credit: Shutterstock

University applications have been submitted… and now you wait. But here’s the magical thing: The ball is actually in your court now.

As you start getting your acceptances, you realize these universities want you. It is now your return to be selecting them. You have the power to accept or deny. You will notice this as many universities email you with newsletters and hold informational events to convince you to pick them. Along with the exhilaration and overflowing emotions, some sense of confusion and pressure can build up.

So, which university should it be? How do you make this, arguably, very important life decision? For many high school students, it is the first adult choice they will make for themselves. Picking the right fit to grow as an individual while exploring your interests and opportunities extremely important. So, let’s break this down together: what are some mistakes to avoid and what factors to consider when deciding the university admission acceptance?

The biggest mistake

Understandably, we want to make the best of the college education and so gravitate towards rankings. Yes, rankings are important. But they must not be the only, or the most heavily weighed factor when making decisions. Why?

Firstly, rankings are highly subjective. There are many sources, organizations and websites that rank universities, each having their own criteria and indicators. Each weighs factors such as academics, alumni, student life, etc. with varying degrees of importance. However, stick what is most important to the individual and choose the best fit. We recommend taking rankings as an overall consideration of what programs and sets of university acceptances are the best for your academic goals, but never choosing that final university program solely because it is more highly rated than the rest.

In fact, one program that shows as the third highest on a certain ranking, may be the sixth on another. The essential takeaway - it is a great program.

Approaching university acceptances with this perspective is important so that the final decision is not clouded by the ever-changing rankings. As high school seniors transition to college, they become adults who take agency of their own choices and opportunities.

College is more than academics, it is learning how to successfully navigate life with own best interests in mind. So, how do we ensure that the university we pick is the right fit for us, and will enrich the next four plus years?

Decisive choices

College is as much about education as it is about personal growth and development. US colleges, in particular, offer unparalleled and vast resources to explore different interests and dip one’s toes in anything and everything to help decide what to pursue in the future. A huge pool of these opportunities are outside the classroom: in clubs and organizations, in student governments and advocacy groups, in research labs and art studios, in volunteering and internships.

Certain universities have co-op internship programs, while others have intensive capstone research projects. The transferable skills college students learn from their involvement outside academics make them well-rounded individuals and equip them to be leaders in their fields.

As you browse and learn more about these colleges, one draws a sense of the student body as well. Some colleges specialize in certain majors, so will have a student body passionate about those interests. Other colleges may pride themselves on diversity, which can range from cultural to socioeconomic diversity. Consider these factors carefully because you are who you surround yourself with.