5 Years of Advice for Seniors Making A Final College Decision

If you are a senior admitted to multiple colleges and trying to make a final choice, this blog’s for you!  

I totally get this decision may feel overwhelming. Nothing I can say is going to eradicate that emotion or provide you with complete clarity. So why read on? Because in times of uncertainty it’s helpful to seek collective wisdom and perspective. But if you read only one more sentence, remember this: a life well-lived, a “successful” life, and frankly a life of freedom and joy, is typically one filled with choices and options. You’ve earned the right to make this decision. Celebrate that!  

Listen, I know you are busy. You’ve got lots going on outside the classroom at the end of the school year, you’re likely getting ready to take AP/IB/Dual Enrollment exams, and there’s inevitably other tasks or obligations in your life that make reading a blog just one more thing. So… I’m going to keep this brief and not attempt to recreate the wheel.  

Instead, I did the heavy lifting by going back over the last few years to synthesize advice, tips, and other resources on how you can make this decision… and do so with solace and confidence. So, my friends, with no further ado, here’s the way back machine on final college selection (cue the psychedelic music and wavy, colorful lines on a screen). 

 2021 

Going a bit meta here as this one is sort of a best of within the best of. Further demonstration that I don’t have all the answers (far, far from it), but I try to learn from those around me who have more insight and experience. This one features a who’s who including Nicole Hurd, Tevera Stith, Adam Grant, Jeff Selingo, my friend and co-author Brennan Barnard, and the imitable Angel Perez.  

Key Quote: Nope. Impossible. Too many pearls of wisdom. Read the entire piece.  

2020 

Who doesn’t love a Top 10 list? Our Associate Director, Andrew Cohen wrote a real gem here on ways to make a final decision without physically visiting or re-visiting a college. While this came out at the very beginning of the Covid pandemic, his advice is just as relevant now since most students don’t have the time or resources to revisit all of their college options.  

Key Quote:At the end of the day, whether you visit a campus or not, you need to trust your gut. You can read websites, watch webinars, and scroll social media, but at the end of day you will have a feeling and need to trust yourself. You know yourself best! You will have that “aha moment,” at some point this year.”  

2019 

Be honest- when you see the numbers 2.0.1.9., there is that brief thought of, “MAN. That seems like a lifetime ago.” Well, friends, this one starts with a scene out of Hitch featuring Will Smith, so it’s not just you….  

Key Quote: “Options and choices can feel overwhelming, but don’t forget that THIS WAS THE GOAL! This decision is not a burden—it is a privilege. It is a blessing. THIS is why you visited schools, researched colleges, and applied to more than just one place. THIS is why you took tough classes, studied, worked hard, and sat through multi-hour standardized tests—to have choices, to have options. You are EXACTLY where you wanted to be! You did this to yourself—and that is a great thing!” 

Bonus: This one includes a 2 hour + playlist of songs our staff recommended to play as you are deliberating. It’s free and pretty diverse in genre. So, whether you need to go for a long walk or lay on your bed and contemplate your options, we’ve got your theme music covered.   

2018  

Yes. I wrote this one from a cemetery in Argentina, but don’t be dissuaded, it’s far more optimistic and lighter than the setting may connote. Note: I acknowledge there are multiple antiquated references to Facebook, but otherwise plenty of relevant advice on making a decision, including advice for students on waitlists.  

Key Quote: “This is the first of many times you’ll experience these types of choices with relationships, jobs, grad school, moving to a new city or state or country. The truth—there is no right answer. The school you pick is going to be great because your job, starting today and going through this summer, is to fully commit.” 

2017 

Apparently, we figured that class had it covered as it appears we did not write a blog on final selection tips this year.  

2016 

It’s about football and ice cream. If you like either of these, you’ll enjoy this one. If you don’t like either…, who are you?  

Key Quote: Pretty sure we nailed it with the title “Ice Cream is the Answer!” So go grab a pint or gallon and a few spoons and figure this thing out, people.  

Honorable Mention: At the end of the day, the decision you make on where to go to college is not going to determine the rest of your life, contrary to what someone has inevitably told you or what the press will often purport. Instead, it will be the decisions you make in college: the grades you make, the internships you pursue, the network of friends, professors, advisors you create. Those will dictate your trajectory, your success, and your options, and ultimately your contentment in college and life beyond.” 

Five years, friends. Hopefully, you’ll find a few helpful takeaways. If not, I’m going to suggest a coin flip, a dartboard, or letting your little sister pick for you. There you have it…everything AND the kitchen sink.

Good luck. You got this!

Author: Rick Clark

Rick Clark is the Director of Undergraduate Admission at Georgia Tech. He has served on a number of national advisory and governing boards at the state, regional, and national level. Rick travels annually to U.S. embassies through the Department of State to discuss the admission process and landscape of higher education. He is the co-author of the book The Truth about College Admission: A Family Guide to Getting In and Staying Together, and a companion workbook published under the same title. A native of Atlanta, he earned a B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a M.Ed. from Georgia State University. Prior to coming to Tech, Rick was on the admissions staff at Georgia State, The McCallie School and Wake Forest University. @clark2college