for college or gap year, either works. plus you'd start in late feb/early march, so more time to decide
But wouldn't that just be more time to delay picking a college?
Is that a bad thing? I found it helpful to take a year to decide if I was really serious about my next round of grad school (complete departure from much of my academic and professional life).
And spending some of it orienteering in NZ was pretty awesome, too.
Where are you deciding between (and what do you like/dislike about each)?
NZ would be fantastic... at this point it's a little late lol. I'm deciding between the University of Washington, Montana State University, and Northeastern University.
Okay, so here's what I would do. Make a list of all the various things that are even somewhat important about where you go to college, eg: weather, courses/teachers, closeness of orienteering ;-) or availability of other hobbies you want to pursue, even how nice the campus is -- whatever. Then assign each of those things a value, like having the major you want might be a 10, weather might be a 2, etc. Then give a score for each of those things for all three schools. Total the numbers and see which school comes out on top.
If you're disappointed with the results, that tells you something too.
Maybe this seems a bit crazy, but we've done this several times, including trying to decide which house to bid on to buy, and where to stay for vacation.
If you're not into nerdy number stuff, this approach probably won't appeal to you. In that case, think about what you plan on majoring in, if you know, and what other subjects you're interested in, and see which school is best. And if you've visited them, then think about how they felt when you were there. Did you feel at home? Or not?
And remember while it seems like a huge decision, if you decide after you've been to your chosen school that it isn't the right fit, you can go somewhere else.
This is a fun time. Enjoy it! And let us know where you pick.
I often have discussions with students considering grad schools/med school choices and share with them a message that is very similar to Peggy's. That is, there are many pieces to an enjoyable, successful college experience and they all matter, to each person in a different degree.
In a sense, you are looking for the best end-product from your degree (you can measure this a lot of different ways -- best post-grad job, best opportunity for personal growth, etc.). For most people, to achieve this, you need to be somewhat happy. Not necessarily comfortable nor to avoid change, but happy but content enough that you can focus on what you value and succeed. I never used numbers only because I might find it hard to scale each category. Still, listing what is important, what each school will provide and what you will give up to go there is a great exercise. You will only know if your answer was a good one at the end and it is possible to change course if you feel you have made an unbearable mistake.
+1 to Peggy's last sentence
Ah, making a Decision Matrix. Funny, Jon and I just made one for house options. It definitely helps clarify what is different about each option so you can decide how important each one is to you.
I also had a UW/Boston choice. Ultimately, I listed out the courses I thought I would register for at each location, and thought about how they would help me achieve my goals. That suddenly made the choice easy. But I made sure to reach out to the professor who I'd met with at UW to let her know I'd like to keep in touch and continue to follow her research. Keeping doors open...(she has an education project with the NSF involving mapping, which is really awesome).
I think you're doing great research by talking to the people who live in the area. As we've moved around the country, having O friends everywhere has been incredibly helpful. Don't hesitate to continue to reach out. And if you go to Northeastern, then you and Tyra can armwrestle for the free seat in our car going to O meets on the weekends...;-)
Thank you all a ton for your responses! Tyra and I went with the number matrix and found out some interesting things, but I'm still doing research on a few categories. I'm 95% sure I'm ruling out Northeastern (just feels too far from home), and I'll let y'all know by Tuesday what I decide. Thanks again, the feedback is much appreciated :)