Well, we thought we would be starting a new series for the new year, but it turns out there are one or two things we would like to say to the seniors who are looking at their college prospects now–albeit a bit late–with newly serious eyes. I was talking to one of my best friends recently. He has twin girls, who were just finishing up their applications when we chatted on December 27. He said that one of the girls was feeling a bit blue as she looked over the list of colleges she had applied to and worried that none of them seemed to be the perfect choice.
I found myself giving him two messages for his daughter.
1. There’s Not One Perfect College Choice.
The first is the message that any concerned parent would send, and it went something like this: Don’t worry. There are many colleges out there that would be a fine choice for you. There isn’t just one perfect college. You could be happy at any number of colleges, including the ones on your list, and you likely will be.
Her father added that he thought there was really no way to know how good a fit a college might be until you were actually enrolled and living on the campus and taking classes and making friends and involving yourself in activities, etc. Her dad is a smart guy and, in this case, exactly right.
However much you think you know about a college from reading the website and visiting the campus and attending a few sample classes and talking to kids who go there will be nothing compared to that first month as a student there. And really that first semester as a student there, because that first month can be atypically difficult, especially if the college is far from home. So, yes, applicants should do their homework about a college before applying (our new book is designed to help high school students do exactly that), but applicants also have to accept that fact that they can’t know everything in advance.
Parents, if you attended college and had a choice of colleges yourself, after the acceptances came in, do you ever think about how your life might have been different if you had chosen a different college? I really don’t, but did so on the occasion of preparing this episode.
This will surprise you, Marie (well-known Barnard alumna), but I very nearly chose to go to Smith College or Pembroke College (now fully merged into Brown University). Yes, two women’s colleges! I liked the idea of women’s colleges as a high school senior more than I do now. So, was I right then? Perhaps I was.
I also thought hard about going to two great Southern universities–Vanderbilt and Southern Methodist (my mother’s alma mater). Although I grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, I spent all my summers in Texas at my grandmother’s. I loved the idea of going to college in the South and believe, to this day, that I would have thoroughly enjoyed either of those universities.
But, as our listeners know, I chose Cornell. In fairness, my father, an Ivy Leaguer himself, chose Cornell for me. I could tell that he wanted me to go to Cornell, though he never said it, so I did. I don’t regret my choice for a minute. Was it a perfect choice? Well, a near-perfect choice, except for the weather. But I have to believe that any other choice would have made me quite happy, too. They might have been just as perfect.
Maybe the key here is to get great colleges onto your list of college options so that you apply only to places that you would really like to attend. It is comforting to go into the waiting period of the next few months knowing that you could be happy at any of the colleges on your list. That’s one reason we spend a lot of time talking to you about options, taking you on our virtual nationwide college tour (Episodes 27 through 53), going through the deal breakers in your decision making (see our first book), and doing the research you need on each college option (see our upcoming book).
2. Lots of Colleges Are Still Accepting Applications.
So, that brings me to my second message to my friend’s daughter: If you are really concerned (and not just fretting over nothing, as kids sometimes do), there are still a lot of great colleges accepting applications. I have to admit that when I Googled “colleges still accepting applications,” I couldn’t believe the number that came up. Sure, some have deadlines of January 10 or 15 or 31, but some have deadlines in February, March, April, May, and beyond. Yes, for the fall of 2017. And you still have some time to submit applications even to those with January deadlines. One note of caution: I double checked the deadlines of all the colleges that were supplied by my Google search and found many of them to be wrong. So please check out the actual website of any college that you might be interested in!
There is no way to generalize about the colleges with later deadlines, but I have noticed that quite a few of them are the branch campuses of large public universities, though some great flagships also have relatively late application deadlines. Other than that, you can find small liberal arts colleges, larger liberal arts universities, faith-based colleges, HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities), single-sex colleges–really, just about anything. They are large and small. They are urban, suburban, small town, and rural. They include some highly selective colleges, some selective colleges, and some not-so-selective colleges. They include colleges in the North, South, East, and West (including as west as it gets).
Let me read you a sample of colleges with late application deadlines to prove our point. Here are just some of the colleges–including truly great colleges–you can apply to by January 15 (and really 10 days should be plenty of time to pull some of these off):
- Bryn Mawr College
- Bucknell University
- Carleton College
- Case Western Reserve University
- Centre College
- Colgate University
- College of the Holy Cross
- Colorado College
- Denison University
- Drexel University
- Florida State University (January 18)
- Franklin and Marshall College
- George Mason University
- Grinnell College
- Haverford College
- Kenyon College
- Lafayette College
- Loyola Marymount University
- Macalester College
- Mills College
- Mount Holyoke College
- Oberlin College
- Occidental College
- Providence College
- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
- Skidmore College
- Smith College
- Soka University of America
- Southern Methodist University
- Stony Brook University
- Tulane University
- University of Colorado Boulder
- University of Connecticut
- University of Delaware
- University of Denver
- University of Georgia
- University of Massachusetts Amherst
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- University of Oregon
- University of Puget Sound
- University of Southern California
- University of Vermont
- Villanova University
- Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
- Washington University in St Louis
- Wellesley College
Need more time? Well, here are colleges with February deadlines (albeit many are on February 1, but some are on February 15):
- Baylor University
- Clemson University
- Colorado State University Fort Collins
- DePauw University
- Dickinson College
- Fisk University
- Hunter College (CUNY)
- Ithaca College
- Juniata College
- Miami University (Oxford, Ohio)
- Ohio State University (main campus)
- Quinnipiac University
- Rhode Island School of Design
- Saint Michael’s College
- Simmons College
- Spelman College
- St. Lawrence University
- Stevens Institute of Technology
- Transylvania University
- University of Maryland (Baltimore County)
- University of Michigan (Ann Arbor)
- University of New Hampshire (main campus)
- University of North Carolina Wilmington
- University of Rhode Island
- University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Earlham College
- Morehouse College
- Rollins College
- Texas Christian University
- The College of Wooster
- University of Kentucky
- Yeshiva University
I was going to stop there, but there are some that I would like to mention with deadlines in March (yes, March!). You really have no excuse not to apply to one of these if you are interested:
- Georgia State University
- Hampden?Sydney College
- Hampton University
- Randolph?Macon College
- SUNY at Albany
- University of Dallas
- University of Hawai’i at M?noa
- East Carolina University
Okay, you get the point. But, believe us that we could name colleges with deadlines in April, May, and even June, including some that we have recommended in our virtual nationwide college tour–colleges like SUNY New Paltz, Old Dominion University, the University of Iowa, Louisiana State University, and the University of Central Florida.
So, parents of high school seniors, don’t despair. If your teenager is truly questioning his or her choices now, it’s not too late. Again, the options that we have just read are a sample of colleges still accepting applications (and there are many options that we have not read). Lots of these options would be great for any student. So, if you and your teenager are so inclined, take an hour or two now and have a last look. It might not change any final decision your teenager will eventually make about where to go to college, but it might let you all sleep better for the next few months.
As always, call us, if you could use some free advice!
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