How to Commit to your University AND Feel Confident in your Decision

Photo by Stanley Morales on

May 1st is approaching. You’re a senior, hesitant about your final options. One on hand, you’re excited you have choices, but on the other hand, maybe you still have a waitlist option and are still wondering. Maybe you’re thinking about a community college, or even a Gap Year. Maybe you have two amazing choices, that are on completely different sides of the country.

The National Commitment Deadline is on May 1. The day where a student commits to a university by securing a deposit and indicating they will attend. Side note: Have you been financially affected by COVID-19? Check out the Enrollment Deposit Fee Waiver from the National Association for College Admission Counseling

Making a decision that will alter the trajectory of your life over the next four years is less than peachy. It’s downright terrifying. And beyond that, you’re receiving opinions from every which way, your parents, your friends, online blog sites. You feel there’s so much at stake and you just want to make the right decision.

As a counselor, I am here to remind you, that while I’d love to wave my magic wand and tell you exactly the right choice, I cannot. Not only would it be unethical, it wouldn’t guarantee your success. Because I cannot predict success based on how high of a ranked college you’ll attend. I cannot predict the experiences you will have that will ultimately define your path beyond college.

I can, however, provide some key tools that will leave you walking away with that confident walk. Let’s go.

How to commit to a college and feel good about it

Throw the rankings away. If you’re asking, “what college is higher ranked” to make your decision, well you’re asking the wrong question.

When you fast forward to your last day in college, the biggest factors in determining how successful and prepared to rock your life moving forward, lies in the experiences rather than the college name on the diploma itself.

Listen, I’m not knocking selective universities, but I am asking you to make a decision based on whether or not you could THRIVE at a university, rather than SURVIVE because it’s a “higher ranked” school.

If you ask me what the higher ranked school is, I will respond, “higher rank in what?” Rankings can be heavily skewed, and basing your future off of a rankings takes the reins out of your hands landing in a fate that might not be the best, simply because it felt more glamorous.

Okay Ms. Rowley, that’s a bit harsh. I get it. But I mean to serve a little tough love. Set your ego aside and listen to your gut.

Humble yourself for a moment, okay humble yourself for a while. And begin thinking about what experiences will enhance your learning and add to a killer resume, what classes will make you feel so comfortable that you’ll ask questions and dive into the teachings, but also challenged so you grow. What student body will add to your experience?

Clubs, organizations, location, access to internships in the local area, unique opportunities at the particular college, looking into the department and seeing what professors are up to, being picky about advisors and how they will help you in everything from choosing classes to connecting you to a pre-med advisor or a math tutor when you’re struggling.

Think about a day in the life at the universities you are considering. When I wake up what classes will I take, when class is over what activity will I head off to, a walk the park? Heading off to the free art classes offered?

What you don’t want to envision, is four years of a university that you chose off of someone else’s opinion. Because at the end of the day, YOU are the one taking classes, interacting with the school culture and positioning yourself for that day when you walk across the stage, receive your diploma and smile, because you know you have what it takes to conquer the next phase of your life.

I challenge you, set the ego aside, set the rankings aside, and turn inward. Get reflective, get picky about your options and ask the one person that matters in making this decision…you.

Published by Casey Barneson

Author of The College Wellness Guide. Beverly Hills High School College Counselor.

4 thoughts on “How to Commit to your University AND Feel Confident in your Decision

  1. Great article! You are right, there is so much more than rankings!

    I like what you said about looking more into a department and seeing what professors are up to. Most faculty pages usually include what each faculty member’s research interests and publications are, which can be super insightful for students choosing a college as well as some great information to include in the “why us” essay.

    Keep up the great work!


    1. Thanks Chris! I think when we say research it’s hard for kids to just know what to do!


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