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Hooray! I've Cut it to My Top Three...How to Get to #1

You've spent a couple of years trying to find the right college. You and your selection team have done it all the right way. Well, maybe not everything, but nothing that you couldn't recover from. You used the 7 Step Process. Now you've narrowed it down to three great colleges. Question is: How do you get from three down to one?

You will fall into two distinct groups. The first group is - you knew the second you walked on campus that this was right for you! This is where you wanted to spend the next four years. If that is you, then don't read any further and get back to tweeting.

If you are in the second group - you're saying, "I like all three, each has some great things about it, each had a couple of things I didn't care for, they all have my major, I liked most all the coaches, I could go to any of them", If that's you, then this blog post is for you.

It's not only a hard decision, but sometimes can be overwhelming. You may have researched 20 colleges, done first visits with 10, done secondary research on 5-7. That's a lot of information to digest. The good news is that you've cut it to 3-5 potential colleges. That is a major step. So here are some things you can do to help you get to #1.

1. Review your personal profile. Ensure that all parameters are met by the 3-5 schools. If some are not, it may be time to rank the importance of each of your personal attributes. Find out which ones are deal breakers.

2. Of course, review all of your other research data. See if you can eliminate any schools based on that.

3. Consult with your 'Selection Team'. Seek their input, advice and recommendations. They know you best and you respect their opinions. Don't waste that valuable information.

This final tool can help you net things out. I developed this to force you to think things through in a more formal way. This accomplishes two things. First it puts critical information from different colleges side by side. You can now easily review the schools based on key input data and you can simply look across a matrix to compare a number of key attributes.

The second part of this matrix requires you to write in the pros and cons of each school as you see it. This may include some of the facts above, but more importantly allows you to include more subjective things. Things like - feel of the campus, how comfortable you were with the coach, how much you liked the players that you met, your opinion on how well you think you fit. In other words, your feelings about things.

At the end of the day your decision is a combination of three critical things - the hard facts from your research data, input from your selection team and your 'feel' for the academics, the campus and the program.

Based on the fact that you did all that hard work up to this point, more than likely there is no wrong decision. You will probably do well at all three colleges. So don’t get too worked up about it, but try this last step and see if it helps. I can't guarantee that this final process will work for you, but it has for others. At a minimum, it will force you to deploy a formal decision making process in the final moments.

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