Applying to College 101:  Where Should I Commit To? 

By Bushra and Amara Mir, Ambassadors of the Co Lab’s Education Hub

Welcome to the third part of the applying to college 101 series! For a refresher, here’s part 1 (choosing where to apply), and here’s part 2 (the application process).   Now that you have already been accepted to universities, comes the difficult decision of picking between them.

If you were accepted to a university, great job! If you like that university and are happy to and able to attend, send in your deposit, and also keep reading for more information on everything you’ll have to do.

If you were not accepted to a university, there are still many amazing options! You can take a gap year to do more things you love, take a break, or explore your options. You can also apply to any of the many rolling admissions universities around the US, as most accept applications into June. You can also apply to a community college and either complete your associate’s degree there or apply to transfer if/when you would like to. 

If you have multiple choices, here are our tips on choosing where to commit:

Attend Virtual/Physical Events

  • If you have the chance to, you can tour the university, or otherwise attend the virtual events hosted by your university
    • Touring gives you the chance to see if you like the environment you might be living in
  • This can help you meet admitted and current students to see the student vibe
    • You can also scroll through current student forums of the university to see what type of online presence the students have 
  • You can also learn more about the school from attending lecturers/faculty/admissions staff

Deadlines (housing, deposits, course planning)

  • Housing
    • Once you are admitted, most universities give a May 1st deadline for you to turn in your deposit, indicating that you are committing to the university
      • Note: if you are waitlisted at a university you like better and get admitted off the waitlist, you can inform the university you originally committed to but you will not get back your deposit—let them know in advance you are on waitlists so that the university is not blindsided
    • Universities tend to have their own housing applications due usually in May or June—for universities with less housing available, this can determine if you get a spot, so make sure to fill in the application as soon as you can!
      • You can also look at verified chats or pages for admitted students in your year to see if you want to search for a roommate
    • Most universities will have all of their courses available online and deadlines will vary depending on school
      • Explore the course selections online or by contacting your first-year/student-faculty advisor 
      • Deadlines range from June to August/September
    • If you are completely sure what major you want to do, that’s great! You can cater your courses towards your major (and possibly general education) requirements
    • If you are not sure what you want to study, that’s great, too! You can cater your courses to what sounds interesting while fulfilling your general education requirements. Most universities won’t require you to declare a major until the end of your sophomore year

Appealing financial aid (it’s possible!) – but be wary of the price: can you afford it without debt/loans?

Out-of-state vs. in-state – which is more worth it?

Most importantly, consider “fit” again and gut feeling

  • If your financial situation permits, the university you feel like you like the most might be the best fit for you–
  • You can always try the coin trick. Associate heads/tails with universities of your choice, and flip the coin. If the coin lands and you’re happy with the result, that might be your subconscious favorite. If it lands on something and you still feel uncertain, well, you know your answer. In the middle of the coin flipping, if you felt that you had a side you subconsciously wanted it to land on, there’s your answer, too!

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