For those of you applying to colleges abroad this year, it may seem like it is still a long way away. Trust me, it is not! I would like to form an argument around why this is the best time to finalize your list of colleges. If you have only just begun, it would be a good idea to first read the blog entries on choosing your best fit colleges (a larger list that you will explore): Part 1 is here: http://parentedge.in/finding-best-fit-colleges-part-1-your-preferences/ and Part 2 is here: http://parentedge.in/finding-best-fit-colleges-part-2-researching-the-schools/ Then read up some advice on how to research these colleges in more depth and narrow your list down in this entry: http://parentedge.in/narrowing-down-your-school-list/
Think back on a time when you had tons of choices; maybe it was arriving in a new city you wanted to explore, or deciding who to ask to the school dance, or your parents bringing you to a store and saying “Pick anything you want out!” While this is wonderful, it also has the effect of diffusion; that is, you cannot really focus on any one thing because you are too excited about the many possibilities. I find that is a similar phenomenon before you finalize your list of colleges. Once you take that decision to close the list, it frees up all the energy that you have been projecting out to the many and focuses it on the few lucky ones who made it on to your list.
Once you do have your list though, think of them all as close friends, but don’t pick a best friend. I suggest a process of individually looking at each school as if you are already accepted. When my students get all of their acceptance letters in March of their 12th grade year, and then have to make the choice of one of those colleges by May 1st, they inevitably research the schools in far more depth than when they were applying. I would suggest that you use that ‘benefit of hind sight’ to pretend that you are already accepted and search each of your schools for the kinds of things that make it a perfect fit for you.
Another important reason to finalize your list earlier rather than later is that it will silence the cacophony of well-wishers who will begin to come out of the wood work towards the fall. I am talking about those uncles and aunts, friends of the family, internship supervisor, teachers and your very own friends who are suddenly “professionals” in knowing what college is best for you. Seriously, they pop out of nowhere! “Oh, so you want to study engineering, you should apply to x university! Rajesh-uncle went there and now he is working at Microsoft!” The fact is, they mean well, but this is your process! If you have your list, you will politely respond, “Yes Auntie, I did look at that school very closely, but I have finally decided only to apply to these.”