#The High School Experience

1. I didn’t shoot high enough.

We’ve seen this play out countless times: a student gets into every school they apply to, and suddenly the thought creeps in: ”Could I have gotten into more selective schools?”

One easy way to avoid this is to do your research at the onset of this process. Look up average GPA and SAT and ACT scores, and assign schools into tiers (likely, target, and reach) accordingly. If you are struggling to find this info or make a determination, feel free to contact us.

2. I didn’t realize how much merit money was out there.

“Merit money” means scholarships that do not take financial need into account. Some schools are notorious for the amount of merit money they give out (e.g. Pitt, Tulane). Others only give need-based financial aid. This is something to consider when choosing where to apply.

There are also several third party scholarships that students can apply for. A good place to start searching is your high school’s guidance office. You should also take time to search the internet for scholarships. Scholarships can be open to anyone, or specific to a student’s cultural background, intended major, extracurricular activities, etc.

3. I applied Early Decision to a school other than my first choice.

NEVER apply Early Decision to a school other than your first choice. Early Decision is binding, meaning you forfeit your chance to choose where you go to college. If accepted Early Decision, you are obligated to go to that school.

Students are often tempted by the increased chances of success among Early Decision applicants. For this reason, they apply Early Decision to the toughest school on their list, but not necessarily the best fit. If you are not 100% sure that a school is your first choice, do not succumb to the pressure of applying Early Decision. Millions of students do not apply anywhere Early Decision, and they al get into the schools they want, too.

Remember: Early Decision is NOT the same thing as Early Action. For info the difference between Early Action and Early Decision, click here.

4. My schools don’t offer _____ as a major.

Admissions officers do not assume 17-year olds know what they want to do for the rest of their lives. After all, most teenagers do not know what they want to do this Friday.

So it is more than okay to apply as a undecided applicant. But, if you have several intellectual interests, or a specific career goal, then make sure the colleges on your list have those programs. Do not apply to schools that do not have majors that interest you.

5. I hate my schools’ locations.

Remember that when you go off to college, you actually have to live there for four years. Yes, your studies will be your full-time job, but you will also have a personal and social life. If you are someone who hates the hustle and bustle of the city, do not apply to a school with an urban campus. If you hate hot weather, do not apply to school in the south. If you live for the beach, consider a school on the coast.

These factors may seem trivial in comparison to your education, but your personal happiness and wellbeing are integral to your success as a student in college – and ultimately a professional in your career. Find a school where you will be happy – in and out of the classroom.


If there is a common thread to all these regrets, it is that they are avoidable with research. If you are at a loss for where to apply, consider our College List Survey – a short quiz that will return a list of 15-30 possible match schools based on a student’s preferences and qualifications, with some info on why the match makes sense. The list is meant to serve as a starting point for a student’s college research, not a definitive list of where to apply.

To request the survey, contact us today!