Pros and cons of having a first-choice college

Marisa Silverman, Back Page Editor

As seniors commit to college and juniors finalize the lists of schools they’re applying to, one question looms large: which, if any, school is the first choice?

Having a first choice can make spring of senior year easier. “I think that it’s good to know which one to accept if you get accepted to a bunch,” junior Rebecca Hartman said.

That being said, having a first choice doesn’t necessarily make a big difference in the college application process itself. Applying Early Decision can change that, locking students into their first choice and leaving no room for decision change. “It doesn’t matter until the end,” senior Emma Stern said.

Having a first choice gives students a more tangible goal than just “go to college.” Your goal has a name, a location and years of education leading up to it. “You need to have a goal so you have standards,” sophomore Val Zhao said.

Choosing a college is a complicated decision. There are dozens of factors, as evident by the college search tools on Naviance. Having a first choice ensures that the school you want to go to is right for you. “I feel that having the ‘right fit’ in a college is most important. Within that ‘right fit’ college, having a first choice should be a realistic and viable option for the student,”College Career Information Coordinator Kathleen Carr said.

When you have a first choice, it makes it clear which school is going to get most of your time. By going on tours, talking with admissions officers, and showing interest, being passionate about a school can make the difference between acceptance and rejection. Having a first choice allows you to show that interest, being sure that is where you want to go. “If you’re really passionate about that school, it should be your first choice,” junior Julia Herman said.

What’s important to note is that by setting your heart on one school, it sets you up for heartbreak. College admissions is a messy process, and getting rejected hurts. “I think it’s unwise to have your heart set on one school, but you can’t really control it,” senior Caitlin Chang said.

According to “Don’t Have a First Choice College” by Willard Dix, having a first-choice college opens the door for hurt. Not only does Dix warn that choices can change, but he suggests that students should be excited for every school on their list.

Just like love, you can’t always help which school you fall for. Sometimes it’s illogical and complicated, but so is life. Whether or not to have a first choice is a personal decision. Just like the rest of college admissions, there is no one-size-fits-all way to go about it.