National Decision Day has come and gone. Students have made their choices and are now thinking about roommates, orientation and summer work. Parents are shifting their thoughts from acceptance to trying to figure out how to pay the educational cost.

But what about me? I didn’t commit – I’m still undecided. You’re not alone!

Considering college after high school can be a very stressful and overwhelming experience. For some the process of deciding on what to do and where can require a little extra time.  Today the pressure to go to college straight out of high school may not be the right “next step” for all. Pursuing one’s education after high school can take multiple paths, each designed to support an individual student and family needs.

Yes, the general trend continues to be that all high school students and families to think four-year college right after high school.  Although a traditional path to college after high school is not wrong, the pressure to follow the pack is wrong. Working through one’s college plan can take a student past May 1 and for some offer alternative paths, equally important to students desired career, first job outcome.

Delaying one’s choice, stepping back and slowing the decision-making process can be a wise option for many students and families. On the fence, not 100% sure are strong reasons to invest more time. Questions related to academic and personal readiness, ability to pay and overall interest in school are all valid reasons to take one’s time. College planning is an individual experience!

What’re my options?

Enrollment at traditional college and universities did not end on May 1, National Decision Day. The truth be told, a vast number of colleges and universities across the county (400+) are still accepting and enrolling students for September. In Massachusetts alone, 25 schools (as of May 13) are actively considering new admissions applications and some even have financial aid available. Across New England, NY and the Mid-Atlantic there are 120+ college and universities actively looking for you. As the process moved past the May 1 date, rolling admissions kicks in! Interested students and families who are ready should contact the Admissions Office at their school(s) of interest to learn about their specific admissions and financial aid procedures.  Applications for admissions and financial aid will be required and details related to following up should be watched closely.

If a 4YR school is just too early than beginning at community college first is just the right thing. Completing one’s Associate Degree and transferring to a 4-Year institution is an excellent option and one that should be celebrated. In the fall of 2017, 34%1 of the total undergraduate student population was enrolled in a community college. Attending a two-year program is a great option that allows a student to strengthen their academic and personal resume and obtain an Associate’s Degree at a very affordable rate. For those who begin at a community college individual states, like Massachusetts, Maine and others offer tuition and enrollment incentives for students to utilize the Associates to Bachelors educational paths.

Ok, but if the idea of going to school after high school is just not in the cards, launching into work is a perfect way to use the gap to analyze current and future goals. Work and learn! The need for trade and skilled professionals as well as individuals working in financial services, healthcare and sales are all critically needed today. In the fall of 2017, 58% of those students enrolled in school after high school was part-time2. High school and recent graduates who are interested in this path, work and earn, are encouraged to continue with their direct employment searches, building their personal network and using a local career center. Investigating trade organizations like the IEBW is also an excellent resource for those thinking of a skilled professional or apprenticeship.

Choosing to attend college right out of high school is not an easy task. It requires a strong evaluation of the student wants, needs and expectations. It should not be based on the fact that everyone is going or even one single consideration. It is about where will the investment; academic, social, emotional, financial and career-outcome will take a student. For if the investment hits the mark then the selection for the college is the “right fit”!!


1 Community College Research Center (CCRC)

2 US Bureau of Labor