Seniors face the challenge of choosing colleges

April 21, 2009 — by Rebecca Nguyen and Uma Sambasivam

After years of hard work, the time has finally come for seniors to make the next major step in life, college. In most cases, several doors are open to them. All they have to do is decide which college is right for them by May 1. And that’s where the pressure comes in.

Senior Swupnil Sahai is trying to decide between UC Berkeley, Cornell, and the University of Chicago.

“I have always tried to find a balance between student life and academics, so I want to go to a place that has one of the best undergraduate programs in the country, but also has an exciting student life,” said Sahai. “For example, being located near big cities, having good weather and students I can relate with.”

Other students want to primarily focus on the academics of the school and opportunities rather than other factors.

“My primary focus for my decision is academics: strength of my major’s department at the school, availability of professors, opportunities to do research, since I’m a science major, class size, etc,” said senior Sarah Zarrin.

Students also have to consider the cost of going to different schools. For instance, senior Mabel Hsu had her heart set on Boston University, but due to its cost, a little more then $50,000 a year, she decided to go to UC San Diego.

“I was really disappointed at first because I had really wanted to go to Boston and spend my college years there. I was almost a little angry, or disappointed, that it was money that was holding me back,” said Hsu. “It almost seemed unfair, but I realized it would have been more unfair to place my family, and myself, under such a monetary burden.”

Not only do students choose by size and costs, but also by location. Senior Alex Ren had a difficult decision between two colleges, UC Berkeley and UC Davis.

“I think that one of the major factors is location because family and friends are important. I will always be attached to Saratoga. That’s a major reason why I chose Berkeley over Davis,” said Ren.

Some students, like senior Weilynn Chang, prefer to be away from home and enjoy new opportunities.

“I wanted a change so instead of a school in California where the weather is always the same go to a big city like Boston where there are four seasons. College is about new great experiences,” said Chang, who is deciding between Boston University and UC Irvine.

Although deciding which college to go to is difficult, English teacher Cathy Head encourages students to use a modified Kepner-Trego Method, which is usually used by CEOs when making decisions, to help simplify this task.

The method involves the students giving a score for each of the factors that they feel is important. Then, they must total up the points and the school with the most is the one they should choose.

“It is just a way for you to sort out all of the information, bring it all together, and then follow your heart,” said Head.

After all of the work of applying, the colleges have accepted or rejected students. Now seniors must choose the college.

“It is tough, because there are going to be things you like about every school you apply to, and the inevitability of choosing one school means you’re giving up some things you really liked in other colleges,” said Zarrin. “In the end, it’s obviously a matter of finding which college has the most factors you like and that fit you as a person.”

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