March madness is right around the corner.  For the readers who are college basketball fans, you are probably thinking about basketball brackets and how to choose teams to win those brackets.

In the college admissions world, March has its own kind of madness. March is often a time when juniors are taking standardized tests or getting results back from them. The idea of college sinks in more as they focus on finding colleges that are a strong fit and schedule on campus or virtual college visits.

March is a month that often brings a new reality and excitement to seniors also. Throughout the month, colleges send out admission decision letters and students have until May 1st, the National Decision Deadline, to make their decision on which colleges they will attend. Just like in the March Madness brackets, students have picks that have kept their attention since they opened that first email from a college their sophomore year. However, sometimes, some hidden gems inch their way forward. It may be a college where a student finally visited campus or talked with a current student on the phone, or maybe it is a financial aid package that was a 3-point shot, but that college has a little more visibility and weight than it did earlier in the season.

March is the start of the time when seniors 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 on 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.