For some high school seniors, the final decision of where they'll attend college is a no-brainer. They knew it all along, and they're ready to deposit. But some of you may still be taking a hard look at your list, going back and forth between two or three options. With May 1 just around the corner, how about some guidance? Ask your admissions counselor at each of your top picks these questions. Hopefully, their answers will tip you in one direction.
What can you tell me about your freshman retention rate?
You've probably already heard what the retention rate is; 90%, 80%, 50%... But if you haven't already asked about it, now's the time. If it's a high number, the admissions counselor will likely tell you that it's because students are happy there and want to return the following year. Obviously, a good sign, but dig further: what makes them so happy? If the percentage is low, ask for an explanation. Are students transferring because they can't afford to stay, or made the wrong decision? Either way, find out what the school does to continue improving their retention rate and how important it is to them.
What are some common reasons why students don't ultimately choose your school?
Many admissions counselors can tell you why their school sometimes makes it on final lists but doesn't come out on top. It could be because the student wanted to be closer to home or further away, realized they preferred a private school over public school or perhaps they finally chose to go someplace small, not large. Whatever you uncover might shed light on your own true preferences and help you make your final choice.
What is orientation like?
At this point, you're only a handful of months away from orientation at whatever school you do choose—so ask about it! What was it like last year? Does the schedule look a little boring to you, with only formalities lined up? Or does the school host BBQs, live music shows and other fun events to help freshmen meet each other and start forming friendships? If orientation looks exciting, there's a good chance you'll love the student life there, too.
Do you have a microsite specifically for accepted students?
Okay, this may sound like a weird one. But with an acceptance letter in hand, you should try to feel like an accepted student at that school—and you can get a feel for that experience if the college has a small website (or at least a few webpages) designed especially for accepted students. There, you can count on finding information relevant for your situation, photos of what your life would look like and videos that give you a closer look at the college. A microsite like this one.
Good luck in making your final decision. Hopefully, that means we'll see you at Siena next fall!