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Skip these reasons in making your college decision

D-Day is fast approaching. Sunday is "Decision Day" or national candidate's reply date, and that means high school seniors need to notify one college of their intention to attend and submit a deposit. Missing this deadline can cost you your spot for next year.

I've recently written that when making your decision you should consider: academic fit, social fit and financial fit. But, if you're still at a stalemate, here are my top 10 things that don't deserve as much weight in the final evaluation:

1. The tour guide was really good and made everybody want to come. Remember, that's their job!

2. The website made the campus look so appealing and the brochure has beautiful pictures. Ditto from No. 1. Remember, these are all marketing tools, Frisbee on the quad? It's everywhere!

3. The gym has a climbing wall. Colleges are struggling to "keep up with the Joneses," at least as far as amenities. Climbing walls are at almost every college, and I've rarely seen anyone using them.

4. Prestige. The honor of putting the college sticker on the rear windshield does not mean it's necessarily the right place to spend your next four years. Go beyond the brand name.

5. Your friends are headed there. This could be a great time to step out from your circle and be more independent. Take a risk if it feels right.

6. Your boyfriend/girlfriend is going there. More relationships crash and burn because teenage couples think they must be on the same campus to keep a relationship alive. It's tough, but try to look at this with a more objective perspective.

7. It's the cheapest. If that is the only factor in its favor, then you really haven't done your homework.

8. It's the most expensive. Expensive does not always equate with higher quality.

9. It has a good football team. Students frequently get caught up in the contagious school spirit and forget that there are only just a handful or two of home games each year.

10. They are ranked "No. 1 Party School." No explanation needed.


After you've decided

Once you've made your decision, the honorable thing to do is to politely notify all the other colleges that accepted you and tell them that you have decided to go elsewhere. Think of friends who have been wait-listed. Be careful not to be snotty. You may find yourself interested in transferring, and it would be silly to burn any bridges. It is perfectly acceptable to send an e-mail with an update on your final decision.

While the decision-making can be tough, understand that it is considered unethical to make deposits at two or more schools. Students often think it is "no big deal" and share their plans at school. That scuttlebutt can make its way to college admissions offices. Colleges can and do rescind offers of admission if they find out about double-depositing.


Lee Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte, N.C. For more information, visit

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