5 reasons why your 2nd choice college may be the BEST choice

Cliché: Second to none. 
POCS Reality: After careful consideration, students may find their 2nd or 3rd choice college is really the best fit.

If you didn’t get into your first choice college or you got in but can’t afford to pay the bill, it may be the best thing that could have happened to you. Your 2nd or 3rd choice college may be the right fit after all.

Don’t do this: Students and parents sometimes measure self-worth by college acceptance or rejection. Don’t fall into that trap. Schools seeking diversity cannot accept all qualified applicants from the same school, geographic area or ethnicity. Rejection is not personal.

Or this: Attending a college you can’t afford is a terrible financial start for a new career. It will bring huge debt that can prevent an enjoyable lifestyle.

Do this: Whether you received a college rejection or can’t afford to attend, give yourself a brief period to grieve your disappointment and then stop stressing about what might have been and start smiling about what will be.

And this: Here are 5 reasons why your 2nd or 3rd choice college might be your BEST choice:

  1. Make more informed decisions. Many times 1st college choices are based on emotional responses. Now you can research your other options calmly and rationally, focusing on how they can help you achieve your educational goals. You can concentrate on details like what classes constitute a major, internship possibilities and activity/club popularity while keeping an eye on the big picture via college retention and graduation stats.
  2. Go where you are wanted. It’s always nice to be wanted and that’s what you’ll be when you attend a college that sends you an acceptance letter. In addition, the school may show its appreciation by offering generous financial aid awards like free money institutional grants you do not have to pay back, an honors program with perks like first chance for course registration or another special program that features trips and activities.
  3. Luxury of second thoughts. Between the fall and the spring, many students change their minds about what they want from a college education. After a semester of new high school courses and constant college discussions with parents, teachers and peers, your original college requirements (type, size, location), academic choices (area of study, majors, minors, internships) and cultural opportunities (activities, clubs, events) may no longer be the right fit. Take advantage of the opportunity to re-evaluate what you want and how you will achieve it.
  4. Save money. Attending a 2nd or 3rd choice school that is substantially less costly can save students thousands. Apply your savings to your out-of-school future knowing you don’t have huge loans to pay back. The extra funds can also go towards grad school, a new apartment or help you relocate after job searching.
  5. Get a second chance. Most students fall in love with the school they attend. That could be based on the professors, the students, the programs, the activities or the location. On the off chance things don’t work out despite doing well academically, you can reapply to your 1st choice college, highlighting your new accomplishments. It’s an effective strategy to gain academic strength you originally lacked to bolster your future admission chances to your 1st choice school. Transferring can be your back-up plan.

Visit my colleague Suzanne Shaffer (Parents Countdown to College Coach) for 5 reasons to take another look at your 2nd choice colleges. Suzanne is a college prep expert and online college-bound “coach” helping parents navigate the college maze with the proper tools/resources including a FREE parent tips newsletter.

POCSmom’s College Prep DIY Insight: Blessings in disguise come when you least expect it. The key to success is how you deal with disappointments and handle a challenge. As far as college choice is concerned, there are over 4,000 colleges and more than one can help you achieve your college and beyond dreams. Don’t be surprised if your 2nd choice college turns out to be your BEST choice.