TODAY   |  April 11, 2013

What’s the best way to narrow down college choices?

The acceptance and rejection letters have arrived, but college-bound seniors and their parents still have a lot of questions. A panel of deans from the University of Michigan, Hamilton College and Arizona State is here to help, giving advice on choosing a school and more.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> the college admissions season is right now. it's in full swing, and with decision day fast approaching, a lot of family have important questions that will impact the lives of their children for the next four years. this morning, we have brought in real experts, university of michigan and dean of admissions ted spencer . hamilton college dean of admission monica inser, and director of admissions david berge. welcome back. let's get into it, we have student mary smith . and she's been fortunate, she's been accepted to three different colleges. what's the best way to narrow it down and make the right choice?

>> well, if you started the process correctly, you've decided that you want to go to a particular college because of the academic reputation. you've decided because of the social, the location, all those things. all three of those schools are great first-choice schools. you should then, if you don't get in number one, use the same criteria that you used to pick number one to go to the other two.

>> what if it's the other side of the coin and you've been rejected to a school you really want to go to. can you get in touch with the admissions office and ask they take a second look? appeal the decision?

>> rejection is really tough. it's -- for students, sometimes the first time they faced rejection in their lives and they're sad, feel like they've been kicked in the gut. they've got to pick themselves up. it's a great life lesson. they're taking cues from parents. and i say invest the energy in looking at the places that you have been --

>> i get the message. she's saying if i want to go to your school and you reject me, i should accept it and go on.

>> indeed. and i would echo the message that it's likely an opportunity and a moment for you to look at what you previously thought were your second and third choice institutions. once you do that, you see that maybe you begin to see them in a different light and more positive manner.

>> if you've been accepted to two different universities or colleges, now in some ways, they're competing for you. they want you to come. you're an attractive student. how much leverage does that give the perspective student?

>> well, it gives the perspective student a great deal of leverage. for the schools that don't have long wait lists.

>> tell me why i should come to your university.

>> if i want you, i'm going to say to you, look, we're excited about the opportunity that you're still interested in us. we may put a little bit more money in the financial aid package. or we may just contact you and say come and visit us.

>> well, i think the power shift -- the balance is off now. students had to wait for us for a long time to get decisions, now we have to wait for them. it's revenge on us. they should take every minute they have in april to make a thoughtful and informed decision.

>> do you remember that students always visit a college or university before they decide to go there?

>> it's a great idea.

>> those who can't afford to take that trip.

>> it's interesting, there's a lot of website collateral that students can research. for example, at arizona state , we have an admitted student social network so students can get to know other students in the decision state.

>> let's talk about a financial and scheduling dilemma. you need to put down a deposit to hold a spot at a school that's accepted you. i think may 1st is usually the day for that. you also have to pay a fee to stay on a waitlist for a school that has put you on a waitlist. how timely a fashion will those schools let you know if you're going to make the wait list so you can decide if you have to put the deposit down at the other school ?

>> wait lists are very difficult to manage. one of the reasons is, we never know whether or not we made the right prediction in the beginning of the year in terms of how many students will enroll. so the wait list can shift very easily just based on how many deposits we receive on the first.

>> if one school offers a school financial aid , a nice package, and another school he or she wants to go to does not, can you go to that other school and say, look, i got this financial offer over here?

>> you can, they won't always match offers, but sometimes we've missed something. if there's economic hardship, we want to hear about it, we want a chance to have the conversation and talk about value not just cost, as well.

>> and at the end of the day , it's a family decision about which school , mom and dad can afford to send you.

>> such an important decision that these students and families have to make right now. ted spencer , thank you, we're going to put more information on our website. nice to have you guys. back to natalie.