How am I feeling?
2) Happy that my son is very happy with his choice. Knox College. I am 100% certain he will thrive there.
3) A little wistful over his second choice that he said "no" to. Would rather have him closer to home. I'm processing this. ;-)
4) Very grateful that two, small, liberal arts colleges were generous with merit aid.
5) Very grateful for the robust and affordable SUNY system, which would have been an excellent alternative had the LAC's not been to his liking or affordable. And failing that, very grateful for the robust and super-affordable CUNY system, had he chosen to stay in NYC for school.
6) Very grateful that my son had some excellent, but difficult choices to make.
I share these with some measure of embarrassment - but hey, live and learn.
1) Plot out your reach, match and safeties well. The bulk should be match. Make sure the safeties are places your son/daughter wants to go. My son's older sister in 2017 aimed for reaches with only one match and 2 safety schools. She was shocked that she got accepted to her one match and only one of her safeties. Her match was not affordable. This go-around we were much more strategic, and as expected, he got into none of his reaches, all but one of his matches and all of his safeties. He was pretty realistic with the Naviance scatterplots as a guide.
2) Learn about ECF and Merit vs. Need based aid. Check on these things at each school you apply to.
3) If you are divorced, learn about the differences between FAFSA only and FAFSA + CSS profile schools. Sadly, I was unaware of all this until we got my son's acceptances. This is more art than science and you can't guarantee which schools will give good merit scholarships, but we would have been more productive and removed some of the schools from consideration. If money is not a factor and both parents live together, this is probably not useful advice.
4) This is particular to my son's temperament, but, perhaps limit your college visits till *after* you get your acceptances. Maybe you'll want to do college visits to certain "types" of colleges before you apply: Ivy, Urban, Big State School, small LAC to get a feel for what your student likes.. My son didn't want to visit any schools that didn't accept him or were affordable. It was a bit of a whirlwind after the acceptances, but we reduced it to 5 schools he was interested and we could afford...so he scheduled 5 accepted student day visits, 4 of which had a student overnight as part of the program. My daughter, in 2016 and 2017 only ended up visiting several schools (and loving one) that rejected her.
5) Limit the time you talk about college with your children after they get acceptances. It's exciting - but my son starting avoiding me. ;-)
6) Let them decide. You can inform and suggest (even provide an excel spreadsheet with different categories ranked 1-5), but in the end, they have to go to school there. I told my son he could go to any of his top 5. In the end, they were all sound choices. So even though I got enamored with one school - any one of the 5 would be a good move.