It”s Decision Time

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by Susan C. Gast

Thousands of high school seniors are making college plans…and it”s still not too late to apply! by Susan C. Gast

Almost spring! The days are longer. Blossoms are emerging. And if you listen closely, you”ll hear the time-honored query, "So, have you decided on a college yet?"

Yes, for many of the 9,000-plus Gwinnett high school seniors who will walk the stage this year, "College Decision Time" has arrived — with all the waiting and weighing the experience entails.

Korey Grant, a 17-year-old senior at South Gwinnett High School, understands the waiting part. He applied to Georgia State in December but learned his math SAT score was too low. So he took the entrance exam again.

"I feel I did better," he says. "I wasn”t as nervous as the first time." He”s optimistic, but has selected two backup colleges, just in case.

Grant wants to major in marketing and prefers Georgia State because he likes its business program. The campus is not far from his Snellville home so he can return on weekends. It also offers Greek life and — because it”s in downtown Atlanta — "there”s lots to do."

Those factors are among considerations experts say families should weigh at college decision time.

Some tips to help:

  • Talk to your high school counselor.
  • Sign up for college entrance exams. It can take weeks for colleges to receive test scores.
  • Those interested in financial assistance should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and/or an application for Georgia”s HOPE scholarship.
  • Request high school transcripts.
  • Seek guidance in identifying your interests.
  • Research college Web sites, paying attention to deadlines and testing requirements. Choose three colleges that meet your needs.
  • Visit the schools. "If you just view it online or in books, every college looks perfect," says King.
  • Apply. Many students "start the paperwork process but don”t complete it," McCulloch says.
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