March madness is here. For the readers who are college basketball fans, you are probably thinking about basketball brackets and how to choose teams to win those brackets. There are always consistent teams that do well every year that we feel comfortable moving forward on the brackets. Then, sometimes, there’s that one team that comes out of nowhere and makes it further than anyone expects. Last year that team was UMBC – University of Maryland Baltimore County. After visiting UMBC this fall, I was sent home with a t-shirt touting their win and a little more visibility for a school that I can attest is a hidden gem.

In the college admissions world, I think of March madness differently. It’s a busy time for 3R and 4R scholars. March is often a time when 3R scholars are taking standardized tests or getting results back from them. The idea of college sinks in more as our lessons in class have been more focused on finding colleges that are a strong fit, application preparation and personal statement coaching.

March is a month that often brings a new reality and excitement to 4R scholars also. Throughout the month of March, colleges send out admission decision letters, and students have until May 1—the National Decision Deadline—to make their decisions on which colleges they will attend. Just like in the March Madness brackets, scholars have picks that have kept their attentions since they opened that first college viewbook as a 2R scholar. However, sometimes, those UMBCs—those hidden gems—inch their way forward. It may be a college where a scholar finally visited campus or talked with a current student at the college on the phone, or maybe it is a financial aid package that was a three-point shot, but that college has a little more visibility and weight as another option for that student. 

March is the start of the time when scholars decide, with all of the information in front of them, which path they will choose. We see families create spreadsheets with details and statistics that are weighed similar to those die-hard basketball fans who choose their brackets with thought and planning. We think it’s important to choose a college with reflection and thought – not based on team mascot or color like some of us, I mean… people do.

Here are some guidelines for making the college decision.

●        Attend Admitted Student Days and/or talk with admissions counselors or current college students at each college where you’ve been accepted. Find out as much information as you can and ask as many questions as possible to help make an informed decision.

●        Think about where you will be inspired in the classroom and outside of the classroom. Inspiration can mean challenge, it can mean creativity, and it can mean finding friends with similar interests. Think about what inspires you and think about how each college will ignite that inspiration.

●        The college decision is an expensive investment that often comes down to value, and value and financial fit have a different definition for every family. Think about which college is going to provide you with an experience where you can take advantage of the most opportunities that will open doors and prepare you for your career or graduate school.

If you’re starting to feel the stress of college applications, contact our team today. We’d be happy to sit down with you to learn more about your passions in school and your future goals!