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Making the College Decisions: High School Senior FAQs

March 30th, 2020

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Making the College Decisions: High School Senior FAQs

Between now and May 1, high school seniors must decide among their many college acceptances. Here is a list of frequently asked questions from college-bound seniors that may help you as you think about your college decisions.

Make wise course choices and take advantage of orientation to smooth the transition to college.

Q: I was accepted into my second choice college and major at my favorite university. Should I matriculate and try to transfer into my major of choice once I am an enrolled student or is this too risky?

The first step is to find out the university’s policy on transferring between colleges. Sometimes it can be quite easy to transfer after one semester, and in other cases, certain courses must be completed and a particular GPA maintained. In a few instances, a transfer is not permitted at all such as computer science at the University of Michigan and nursing at Northeastern University). If the university will require you to spend more than one semester in a college not to your liking, then the university may not be the best option. You will be taking courses for which you have less interest, and you may be setting yourself up for the time and expense of more than four years of college if entrance into your preferred major is delayed. In addition, be honest with yourself about your ability to achieve the stated GPA. The required GPA to transfer into the Newhouse School of Communication at Syracuse University varies by semester and the number of available spaces, but it can be as high as 3.5. This might be challenging for some students.

Q: I have narrowed down my acceptances to two options. I have pros and cons about each. How can I learn more about my concerns?

One great way to learn more about what a college is really like is to talk with current students. Ask your counselor if there are recent graduates of your high school that are now attending your college of interest with whom you can connect. Social media can be very useful in this regard. You can also chat with current students if you attend an accepted student event. You can also call admissions and ask them to connect you with a student. If you are interested in particular student clubs or activities, visit the student life page on the website which typically lists the student contact information for each organization.  You can also follow clubs on social media. For questions about academics, contact the department directly and ask if there is a faculty member with whom you can speak or send an email with your questions. You can also access course catalogs and review requirements to be sure the course descriptions and expectations are in line with your interests. Finally, the college newspapers are online and provide information to give you insight into campus culture.

Be honest about what you would be like as a roommate so you can find the best roommate fit for you.

Q: The roommate survey has arrived, and it asks me how neat I am. I am a bit of a slob, but, if I admit that, won’t they put me with an equally disorganized roommate? How honest should I be?

It is always best to be honest. If you are a slob and pass yourself off as a neatnik you might damage your relationship with your roommate. You are correct that if you admit to slovenliness you might be matched with an equally disorganized roomie, but at least you know you will have something in common.

Q: I received information about pre-orientation trips that begin a few days before I am required to be on campus. What are the benefits of these trips?

You should absolutely go on a pre-orientation trip if you are given the opportunity. Some students say that they counted the friends they made on their trip among their closest throughout their college years. “We had a great time on our pre-o trip,” said Brian, a graduate of Hamilton College. “When we returned to campus, I had a group of people with whom I felt comfortable—even before the first day of classes.” Another benefit is that you will likely participate in an activity that you have never tried before whether it is whitewater kayaking, rock climbing, or volunteering at an organization near your campus.

Q: I am overwhelmed by all the course choices. How do I decide?

You are wise to review the college catalog before you meet with an advisor during orientation or make requests online. First, review the options for any required courses such as the Freshman Writing Seminar. Then for the remaining choices identify courses from different disciplines that are in line with your interests, but that also relate to each other. For example, if you choose the African-American Short Story for your freshmen-writing seminar, then you might consider a history course about post-colonial Africa and a French literature course. A student opting for a writing seminar called “Addictions, Obsessions and Manias” might opt for a neuroscience course, and a cultural anthropology or psychology course. The idea is to take two to three courses that offer ideas that relate to one another (not duplicate) so that you can develop a body of related knowledge.

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