Deciding Where to Attend – GradPlan

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Deciding Where to Attend

Make a list of the schools and programs that best suit you.

Decision Time

You’ve done your research and completed the Finding your Fit reflection. You’ve applied to schools you are interested in, been admitted to some and now you have to make a decision about where to attend in the fall. Here are some steps you can take to rank your options and build confidence in your final selection.

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Step 1

Identify the three criteria that are non-negotiable for you. This could be things like cost, distance from home, having your major or program of study, size of the program, student demographics, supports offered on campus etc.

Step 2

Once you have those three non-negotiables determined, go back through the list of programs you are considering and rank them in order of how closely they meet your needs. It is ok if a couple of programs are tied, we’ll address that in Step 3.

Step 3

Now take your list and apply the intangibles. The intangibles are a series of feelings that you can’t touch or quantify, but inside your heart or your gut you have a sense of what matters most to you. Here are some examples –

This program just feels
like the right fit for me.

I feel a sense of belonging
with the other students on campus.

I get really excited
whenever I think about this school.

Re-rank your list after making space for your feelings and listening to your gut.

Step 4

Talk to the people in your life who matter. Share with them your considerations and tell them about your goals. Listen to their experience. Let them ask you some hard questions, like “How are you going to afford $5,000/yr?”  Take a step back and look at your list. It might look something like this:

School or Program


(for me it’s cost, sports and major)


The University of Michigan

Cost is $5,000/yr after financial aid and scholarships. They have football and my major.

This just feels like where I am supposed to be. I have always loved Michigan!  #dreamschool

Illinois State University

Cost is $1,000/yr after financial aid and work study. They have football and my major.

I really liked the campus and the students made me feel welcome. I could see myself there.

University of Illinois
at Urbana-Champaign

Cost is $3,000/yr after financial aid and university grant. They have football and my major

Another great campus. So many cool programs and activities. It’s a little pricier than ISU though.

College of DuPage

There is no cost to me after financial aid is applied. It is the only community college in this area with football. I could do my GenEd’s and transfer to Michigan after.

My mom really wants me to stay local. It would mean a lot to her. Michigan is my dream school, but I worry about the cost. I could do COD and then transfer to UM after saving some money..?

Once you have made your list and talked through your options it will be time to make a decision.

But here’s the secret sauce…there is no right or wrong decision. There is only what you decide to do and from there life will take over and it will play out the way it is meant to. Enjoy the ride!

Recommended Resources


Enrollment Steps

"Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today."

Malcolm X, human rights activist