Yesterday, May 1st, was decision day for thousands of high school seniors nationwide and here in New Jersey. Why May 1st? Because that’s when most colleges require deposits to be made to guarantee a slot in the incoming class for the fall. This is my second time through the process as a dad in the past three years and, unsurprisingly, the experience was different each time. I enjoyed both times, though.

We mainly visited state colleges since I had put the restriction on that they had to stay in New Jersey and attend a state school or a private school that made them an attractive enough offer to make it comparable to a state school, tuition-wise. With my oldest, we visited Rowan, The College of New Jersey, Montclair State, and Rutgers. He narrowed it down to Rutgers and Montclair and then chose to be a Red Hawk because Rutgers’ campus was a little overwhelming.

This time around with my daughter, we had a few more options, primarily because of her grades. She was part of the New Jersey Stars, meaning she had two tuition-free years at any state community college, but it also meant she was offered more substantial merit scholarships. With her, we visited NYU, Marymount Manhattan, Pace, Rutgers, Montclair State, and a late entry, Seton Hall. She had not initially considered Seton Hall, but they were very ardent in their pursuit of her, so we drove to South Orange for a visit.

She loved the campus (and the fact that the head of the drama department came over and said, “Hi, Veronica.”) Never underestimate the power of the personal touch like that. My daughter was floored that he knew who she was. Our interaction with Seton Hall has been very pleasant, as well. I would urge all parents of seniors with decent to good grades to negotiate with schools, you can wind up with a better award.

So next fall, I’ll have one in Montclair, one in South Orange, and one left at home. I get to do it all over again in two years!