Sunday, March 23, 2008

March is acceptance letter month, not just madness month

March is the month for acceptance letters and financial aid pages, not just basketball. Once the letters start coming in, take a close look at each colleges reputation, location, "campus feel", academic programs, and cost. If you have a major in mind you are way ahead of the game, but keep in mind that most students change majors three or more times before graduation. I know this can be unsettling for parents, but the facts speak for themselves. I suggest that you look at all of the factors noted above, not just one or two. This is a big decision and one that should not be impulsive or linked to "where all of your friends are going". In two years you will not be close friends with the same people who are close to you now. This is just the way it works.

On the tech front, its too early to buy the laptop or desktop just yet. National surveys show that over 95% of freshmen come to campus with a computer. If you cannot afford one, fear not. All campuses have computer labs and libraries which generally provide free access. I suggest taking a close look at the colleges Helpdesk and Bookstore web sites. Often colleges have tips on what type of computer to buy and may even have special purchasing programs for computers and software. In Maryland we have exceptional pricing on Microsoft products and we always tell students to wait to buy software until they are enrolled. Always look for these programs before buying. You can save some serious money.

If the college requires that you own a computer you can probably use financial aid to pay for it. If they only recommend it, you will likely be on your on. When in doubt call the financial aid office.

You should also see if you can find information about the campuses wireless Internet access. Most campuses are working on full coverage for wireless access, but most have not completed this just yet. There should be info on this at the Helpdesk site or the telecommunications pages. More on this later.

Good luck in making your college choice. Remember that big is not always better and private is not always perfect. A good student can get a good education at most colleges.

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