More Questions to Ask on Your College Visit

The more you know about each college, the better your ultimate decision will be. Ask questions and weigh your options.

General Academics

How much time do students typically spend on homework?

How much writing and reading are expected?

What is the average class size of introductory classes?

How widely used are teaching assistants on your campus?

What is the average class size of upper-division courses?


Academic Perks (These are programs that you want available)

Is the a first year experience program?

Are some of the classes interactive or project based?

Where can one study abroad?

Do you offer service learning?

What opportunities are there for undergraduate research?

How many students participate in undergraduate research?

Is there a culminating senior year experience?

Do you have an honors college?


Graduation Rates

What is your four-year graduation rate?

What is your five-year graduation rate?

What does it take to graduate in four years?

What percentage of freshmen return for sophomore year?


Academic Support

What type of tutoring program do you have? Is it free?

How do you provide academic advice to students?

Do you have a writing center and how do I access it?

What kind of learning disability resources do you have?


Other Opportunities

How many students at the college get internships? When do they start?

What percentage of students study abroad? Where can they go?

What type of career services do you offer? Can one start in Freshman year?


Student Life

What kind of dorm choices are there for Freshman, Sophomores, etc.?

What percentage of student live on campus?

How long are housing accommodations guaranteed for students?

Do most students go home on the weekend?

What percentage of the study body belongs to a sorority or fraternity?

What activities are offered to students which differentiate your college?

What clubs are popular on campus?


Questions for the Financial Aid Department

What is your average financial aid package?

What is the typical breakdown of loans versus grants?

What percentage of financial need does the school typically meet?

What is the average merit award?

What percentage of students receive college grants?

What is the average college debt that students leave with?

What work-study opportunities are there?

Demonstrate Interest!!

Students need to show colleges that they are interested in attending by doing more than just filling out the application.

The college landscape has changed significantly in the last few years and decisions are made based on big data. What does that mean to you? Colleges are trying to have more students apply because it helps their standing in U.S. News and World Report. Once they have all their applications, they need to determine which students will actually attend, versus which students see them as a safety school, or even fifth on their list (this ratio also helps their ranking because unless they are a big state college, they care about who accepts their offers).

What should you do to look like an interested applicant?

Please note: This does not apply to many large state colleges who generally do not track this.
First, if you live within 4 hours of a college they want you to visit the school and take the tour. If haven’t visited the college, you should consider visiting before your application is due.

Here are a number of ways to show interest to the admission office:
•    Request that the college sends you information. Then open every e-mail that they send because they track that.
•    Find out, by a phone call or e-mail, when your admissions representative will be in your area so you can meet with them. Attend admissions talks and ask the admissions officer a pre-rehearsed, thoughtful, intelligent question, so that they remember you. Ask for their business card and be sure to follow-up.
•    See if representatives are coming to your school for an official visit and attend the session. Afterwards shake their hand, get their business card, ask your pre-rehearsed question, and send them a follow-up e-mail.
•    Clean up your social media and then “like” / “follow” them on Facebook or Twitter.
•    See if the college offers interviews and schedule one. Please meet with me to review interviewing techniques before you have it.
•    If you play a sport, contact the coach and let them know about your interest.
•    Submit an art or music supplement. Ask a real questions which cannot be answered by looking on the website.
•    If a college is your first choice school, let admissions know in an e-mail, and tell them why it is a great match for you.

Some colleges track every interaction that you have with the school, spend your time wisely and let the colleges know that they are important to you.

Here is a list of Colleges Where Demonstrated Interest is Important or Very Important

From: College Kickstart LLC

Institution State Demonstrated Interest
Allegheny College PA Important
American University DC Very important
Assumption College MA Important
Auburn University AL Important
Augustana College IL Important
Austin College TX Important
Bates College ME Important
Bentley University MA Important
Boston University MA Important
Brandeis University MA Important
Butler University IN Important
California Baptist University CA Important
Christopher Newport University VA Important
College of Wooster OH Important
Cooper Union NY Important
DePaul University IL Important
Dickinson College PA Very important
Eckerd College FL Important
Elmira College NY Important
Emmanuel College – MA MA Important
Evergreen State College WA Important
Fairfield University CT Important
Florida Institute of Technology FL Important
Florida Southern College FL Important
Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering MA Very important
High Point University NC Important
Hillsdale College MI Very important
Ithaca College NY Very important
Kansas State University KS Important
Kenyon College OH Important
Lehigh University PA Important
Louisiana Tech University LA Important
Loyola University Chicago IL Important
Marlboro College VT Important
Marymount California University CA Important
Marymount Manhattan College NY Important
Merrimack College MA Important
Michigan State University MI Important
Morehouse College GA Very important
New College of Florida FL Important
Notre Dame de Namur University CA Important
Oglethorpe University GA Important
Pratt Institute NY Important
Quinnipiac University CT Very important
Reed College OR Important
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute NY Important
Roanoke College VA Important
Roger Williams University RI Important
Sacred Heart University CT Important
Saint Johns College – MD MD Important
Saint Johns College – NM NM Important
Samford University AL Important
Seattle University WA Important
Seton Hall University NJ Important
Skidmore College NY Important
Soka University of America CA Important
State University of New York – Environmental Science and Forestry NY Very important
Susquehanna University PA Important
Syracuse University NY Very important
Trinity College CT Important
United States Air Force Academy CO Very important
United States Military Academy NY Important
United States Naval Academy MD Very important
University of Arizona AZ Important
University of Dayton OH Important
University of Massachusetts – Amherst MA Important
University of North Carolina – Asheville NC Important
University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley TX Important
University of Texas – Tyler TX Very important
University of Tulsa OK Important
University of Wisconsin – La Crosse WI Important
Wabash College IN Very important
Washington College MD Very important
Washington University at St. Louis MO Important
Webb Institute NY Very important
Western Washington University WA Important
Westmont College CA Very important
Wheaton College – MA MA Important

11th Grade College Planning Timeline

Eleventh grade is very important in the college planning process, with standardized testing, defining your college list, connecting with teachers for strong letter of recommendation, and keeping your grades high. 

This Summer – Make this time productive
Students should be participating in constructive activities during the summer, colleges care. Summer study, jobs, and volunteer work always rate high with admission officials. If your child has a career goal in mind, see if you can help arrange a day where he or she can “shadow” someone who works in that field.

Do some early research
Look at these articles Finding a College that you Love and Researching a College to see what is important. Then use Scoir to look at colleges that might be of interest. The website provides good college entrance information, as well as information about what schools offer. Summer is a great time for you to check out some of the websites and pick colleges that you are interested in exploring. Reach out to the admissions office and ask them to send you information. Most colleges track all contact that you have with them to determine how interested you are in the school.

 Visit some colleges
Although summer is not the ideal time to see a campus, it is still useful to learn about what colleges offer and to have a broader frame of reference. If your vacation plans take you near colleges of interest, build a tour into your agenda. See my article Visiting Colleges.

Take practice SAT & ACT to determine your best test
We will compare your scores on the SAT & ACT practice test to determine which test is the best for you. Please take a Practice Test for both the SAT and ACT by clicking on the link. You can also do it through other test companies or directly their sites. Look at these Test Prep Options. Here is a Conversion Table to see the different scores.

This Fall – This year the college search process really gets going.

Focus on getting the best grades that you can, and getting help where needed
Monitor your grades throughout the year and find ways to keep them high. Talk to teaches when you don’t understand a concept, and ask for extra work at the end of a semester when you grade is a on the edge of a higher one. Showing an interest and communicating with your teacher can make a difference in your grade.

Research colleges
Continue to add schools which you learn about and may be of interest. Use Scoir to help define your college list to include schools that meet your most important criteria (academic majors, size, location, cost, or activities). Build a list of about 10 colleges which really excite you.

Organize your college information
Set up a filing system on your computer or use file folders for each college’s correspondence and printed materials. This will make it easier to locate the specific information you’re looking for.

Try to find time to visit colleges on your days off
Seeing colleges in session is more useful than during the summer. It gives you a chance to see the students and the vibe of the campus. There may be Options for College Visits so check on them. Take a tour and attend the information session. You may also be able to talk to students or sit in on a class which interests you.

Be an active participant
Go to college fairs at your school or other venues, speak with college representatives who visit your high school, like colleges’ Facebook pages after you have enhanced yours, see Colleges Look at your Social Media. Be open-minded as many students change their criteria significantly during this process.

Be prepared by practicing
We will determine which tests you will take (ACT, SAT, SAT subjects tests) and the dates for them, please register for them and mark those dates on your calendar. You will need to prepare by taking practice tests and getting comfortable with the material.

This Winter – Stay involved, organize college lists, and prepare for standardized tests

Make a difference with your extracurricular activities
Colleges look for consistency and depth in the activities you pursue. Taking on leadership roles or starting a new venture and making a commitment is significantly more important than just being a member of an activity. I will be sending out an article on this shortly.

Discuss colleges with family and friends
Have discussions about the colleges you’re interested in and learn more about them. Talk to students about what college life is like, especially if they attend a school you’re interested in. Although it’s important to hear what the admissions staff has to say about a school, it’s also important to get the students’ perspective. Your family and friends can learn about what you want to pursue and you can hear any concerns or suggestions they might have. Also feel free to e-mail me with any questions or information that you need.

Use your summer wisely, plan ahead

Summer employment and internships in fields you’re interested in is ideal and powerful on a college application or resume, but there are many other options, Summer Activities that Give you and Edge, and Summer Activities part 2. Be involved in something that interests you. One needs to start looking into this in the winter as some programs and opportunities have early deadlines.

Next Spring – Take the standardized test at least twice and keep your grades high
Continue to prepare for standardized tests.
Practice makes testing easier, less stressful, and you more successful. Take either the SAT or the ACT at least twice in junior year. If you need SAT subject tests schedule them for June. Know that you can take the ACT or SAT again in the fall of your senior year if you’re unhappy with your scores.

Pick classes for senior year.
Touch base with me before you pick your classes, don’t load up on easy electives. Colleges do review your senior year courses and grades, so challenge yourself and take classes that are in your areas of interest. See this article for more information, How Many AP’s to Take.

Some high schools want you to ask teachers for letters of recommendation before the summer
Teachers and guidance counselors are often asked to write recommendations for lots of students. Consider whom you want to ask now and let them know so they’ll have time to prepare before the fall. Ask teachers who know you well and who will have positive things to say. Please read this article to get the best letter possible, How to get a Great Recommendation.  If you have a coach, activity leader, or a boss who knows you well outside of school and can speak to your accomplishments and character that is also valuable.

Plan campus visits during Spring break

You should plan ahead and sign up for the tours when visiting colleges. Spring break can be a very busy time for colleges, so make sure there is room. You can sign up on-line or call the admissions office. There may be Options for College Visits so check on them.


Campus Visit Review

As you drive home from a campus visit take advantage of the drive time to review your experience! Write down your opinions while the experience is still fresh on your mind.

College: _____________________________ City/State:__________________________ Admissions Office Representative:______________________________________________ Tour Guide:__________________________ Email: _____________________________ Campus Visit Date: ___________________

Tour /  Rate each category (5 being best)

Grounds / Setting       Campus Housing       Student Center       Classroom Buildings        Class Size

Library Resources       Size       Energy       People        Athletics       Social Life       Cafeteria / Food

Fitness Center          Student Clubs / Organizations         Career Resources          Other




If you interview, Interviewer’s name Email:___________________________________________________________

What did I learn about the school:



Off Campus Life (i.e. music, movies, shopping, restaurants, cafes, art, theater, events)


Near campus:


City Highlights:


Outdoor Activities Nearby:


Transportation Options:



What I like least:


Level of academic challenge? Just right   Too difficult  Too easy  Would I feel comfortable here?

Does this school have what I am looking for?

Should I apply to this school? Why:


What Your Guidance Counselor Won’t Tell You

Valedictorians are denied admission by elite institutions frequently.  According to 2009-2010 NCES data, there are more than 23,000 high schools in the U.S. and each one has a valedictorian. Further, according to the U.S. Dept. of Education, more than 35% of graduating seniors have an A average. There are a LOT of well-qualified applicants to Ivy League institutions and other elite colleges that don’t get in!  In-depth and unique extra-curricular involvement, excellent SAT/ACT scores, demonstrated leadership and awards for your talents may not be enough to secure a spot at a top-tier institution. These schools also look for passionate students who are already very accomplished in research, the arts, sports, academics, or philanthropic endeavors.

It’s almost always better to apply early. College admission offices want to put together their class as efficiently as possible. For some colleges, that means they’ll fill more than half of their freshman class with early action and early decision applicants.  Applying regular decision when there are fewer spots can mean your file is suddenly much less appealing, even if you are a competitive applicant to begin with. Colleges with rolling admission also tend to favor early applicants for the same reasons. While your high school guidance office may feel overwhelmed with requests to gather your information earlier in the school year, it’s almost always a good idea not to wait to apply.

You can still secure merit aid money even if you aren’t a perfect student. The trade-off is that it may be at a less-competitive institution. These colleges will want to raise their GPA and SAT/ACT profile with their entering class and your scores and GPA may help in that effort. You may also find it is easier to secure admission or scholarship at out-of-state institutions since they’ll be looking to increase geographic diversity a

You’re better off visiting a college when students are on campus. Though it’s convenient to visit a college during a holiday or summer break, those breaks may also coincide with the college’s not having students around. That may be fine for an initial visit, but if you want to attend the school, you should take time away from your high school classes to make visiting colleges while they’re in session a priority. There’s no substitute for seeing a college campus while students are there! It’s easier to get a feel for your “fit” on campus when you can see the surrounding neighborhood, the students walking around, and the overall energy of campus. You’ll also find it’s easier to visualize yourself on a college’s campus when other students are there.

The “right” amount of colleges that you should apply to can be anywhere from 4 – 10. Some students apply early decision and find out before any other applications are due, but they should have a list of other schools that interest them. As you move through your senior year, your preferences and the type of colleges that fit your needs may shift. Having an equally divided split of safety, stretch, and reasonable schools will give you plenty of options to consider as the acceptances and aid packages roll in.

Your GPA may be recalculated, and as a result, your 9th grade performance matters just as much as your performance in 11th grade.  It’s important to note that colleges often need a way to compare GPAs across different high schools. So, they create a level playing field by pulling out your core academic coursework from your transcript and recalculating your GPA. Take every year seriously; have a strong start and continue that trend throughout high school.


6 Important Facts about the College Process

What do Colleges Want to See?

The rigor of your schedule and your grades are the most important factors during the review. Colleges take into account what was available to you, how much you challenged yourself by taking challenging courses like AP, honors and IB coursework, and your performance in your curriculum. Colleges want to see the best grades in the hardest classes you can manage. For the other factors please see

Is an A Grade in a regular class better than a B in an Honors/AP/IB class?

Colleges want confirmation that you’ve challenged yourself. They don’t reward unmotivated or lazy students. Take the harder class and do your best, even if your best is a B. But make use of the resources around you. Stay after school for extra help, find a tutor, use free online study guides, form study groups, talk with your college counseling office – whatever you can do to go for the A! See .

Do Colleges want Well-Rounded Students?

Most colleges (especially highly selective ones) are not looking for well-rounded students anymore, they’re looking for well-angled ones. Colleges are looking for a well-rounded class, full of unique, especially talented people. Show admissions counselors what you enjoy, have tried, and the impact you have made. Prove that you have depth and consistency in your activities. Don’t join a new group senior year just to pad your resume and “look good” for college. and

Which Standardized Test do Colleges Prefer, the SAT or the ACT?

Colleges don’t care whether you take the SAT or the ACT. Even Ivy League schools don’t have a preference. As of 2012, the ACT was more popular than the SAT for the first time in history. I will help you find the standardized test that suits you best, then take practice tests and study for it. Don’t waste precious time wavering between the SAT and ACT tests. If you take a standardized test multiple times over multiple sittings, be aware that many schools will super-score the SAT, fewer super-score the ACT. See and

How Many Colleges Should I Apply To?

During our educational consulting sessions we will build a solid college list. Research and visit as many campuses as you can. Every school on your list should be one that you want to attend: fitting your academic, financial, professional and social needs. Most of my students apply to an average of six to eight schools. Your list should include a range of selectivity: 2 – 3 solid schools to which you will most likely be offered admission, 2 – 3 schools that are target schools, and 2 – 3 schools that are a reach for you. Do yourself and your family a favor; don’t get hung up on prestige or a name. Focus on fit and finding the place that will allow for college success. See

Will colleges check my social media accounts?

More and more colleges are looking for you online and checking Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Clean up your social media accounts – especially pictures! No profanity, evidence of drugs or alcohol, cyber-bullying, or unsavory links. Make sure that there isn’t anything on your social networks that is embarrassing. Check all of your accounts! See .

pile of dollar bills

How Much Money Colleges Spend per Student, and the Differences are Significant!

Measures of Assessment:

There are so many rankings, by so many companies, on so many topics, but I feel these metrics are worth knowing. Spending per completion is the estimated educational spending per academic degree (expenses related to instruction, student services, academic support, institutional support, operations and maintenance). It is fascinating to see the enormous discrepancy between our public colleges. For instance St. Mary’s College of Maryland spends $109,456 per student and Towson University spends $38,386; that is almost a three-fold difference. Some of the difference is due to smaller class sizes, and possibly a costly housing problem for St. Mary’s in 2011, but it is also the smaller more personal environment. Morgan State spends $102,886, almost as much as St. Mary’s, but this is probably due to a very low 11% graduation rate so the cost of all students is borne by the few that graduate.

The average four year public college in the U.S. spends $66,436 per student completion while Maryland public schools spend $55,510.

College Grad. rate
(6 year)
Grad. rate
(4 year)
Completions per 100 students Spending per completion Student aid
per recipient
Students with Pell Grants
University of Maryland at College Park 84.1% 65.7% 27 $72,818 $8,152 19.1%
St. Mary’s College of Maryland 79.3% 71.3% 22 $109,456 $8,605 15.2%
Salisbury University 66.8% 46.7% 22.8 $41,275 $4,660 22.1%
Towson University 65.5% 40.4% 23.8 $38,386 $7,031 25.0%
University of Maryland-Baltimore County 64.6% 36.8% 22.6 $60,634 $7,762 27.0%
Frostburg State University 46.5% 22.0% 21.2 $53,942 $6,343 35.0%
University of Baltimore 37.6% 23.4% 26.6 $56,061 $4,549 42.6%
Bowie State University 35.2% 12.9% 17.6 $67,945 $6,887 48.7%
Morgan State University 33.7% 11.1% 14 $102,886 $7,073 61.5%
University of Maryland-Eastern Shore 32.5% 13.4% 14.7 $105,520 $9,271 55.1%
Coppin State University 13.9% 4.1% 14.6 $117,464 $6,077 59.6%
University of Maryland University College 2.9% 1.0% 29.4 $31,611 $8,364 23.9%

This graph also breaks down the 4 and 6-year graduation rates of the different institutions. These numbers are not the same as the chart from last week, perhaps due to different reporting years. (Not all undergraduates are included in the official graduation rate. The U.S. omits part-time freshmen and those who have attended college before, among others, from its graduation-rate survey. The outcomes for those students are not known).

Graduation rates are important because that is the outcome we want, and 85% of Americans students’ surveyed think they will graduate in 4 years. That is not the case and that means not only a greater cost for a student’s education, but also lost wages by not graduating on time. This information is from   College Completion.

How to Find a College that You Love

When Looking for a College, Start with the Important Characteristics:

Determine location, size, cost, surroundings, appearance, and of course academic level. Finding a college that you love is similar to finding a house, it is not an exact science. Most of the time when you do fall in love you keep that feeling, although anywhere you live will have surprises that you did not expect, both good and bad. Many students do not take the time and energy to effectively research colleges to make good decisions.  33% of students leave the college they started at before their sophomore year, and 50% of students never graduate from the institution they enter. Every person is different, and what resonates with them at a college is generally a good indication of fit, if they look at the appropriate factors.

 Is College only about a Major?

Most students change their minds twice about their major while they are in college, so that should not be the only criteria for picking a college. What I expect students to get out of an education is the ability to write effectively, speak persuasively, and analyze data. Our world is changing and there are jobs that we have not even dreamed of that this new generation will be doing. College teaches you to think and solve problems at a higher level. It gives you the tools to think at a high level, take on new jobs, and handle problems independently.

What Makes a Student Successful at College?

Ultimately the energy and time that a student puts into the positive aspects of college, determine what they get out of it. Studies show that having a good connection with a professor not only leads students to do well at a college, but to be more successful throughout their lives. Taking challenging courses that build on their strengths, being involved in and outside of the classroom with activities, and exposing their minds to new concepts and ways of life. College teaches you to solve problems, live independently, and expand your horizons.

Graduates don’t seem to be getting jobs…

In today’s job market many students do not get the type of job they want right away. The best way to be successful is to have internships in your areas of interest every summer, build a strong resume, and interview effectively. Having good employer recommendations and past work experience can set you apart from other graduates.

Options for College Visits

Which type of visit would be best for you: Open Houses, Autumn Preview Days, specific Major or Honors College tours, Personalized Visits, an Overnight Visit, or a regular tour? Many times families are constrained by the calendar, but it may be worth finding out about your alternatives. Larger colleges have open houses while smaller schools can accommodate more individualized visits.

Open Houses

Many of these take place on Saturdays, Columbus Day, or President’s Day. The advantage can be many extra activities to participate in versus just a tour and information session. They can have specific tours or sessions on majors, study abroad options, meetings with faculty and financial aid representatives, and lunch in the cafeteria. Open Houses can last anywhere from 4 – 6 hours.

Tours of Majors / Schools

Quite often colleges will offer tours of specific programs so you can learn more in-depth what is offered and what differentiates them. This is worthwhile if you are sure of what you want to study.

Personal / Individual Visits

If you have narrowed your list to a few schools this type of trip can be well worth the time. A personalized experience allows students to observe classes, and meet with professors and other students. In order to arrange a personal visit, call the admissions office and give them at least three weeks notice.

Overnight Visits

Not all colleges allow this due to liability issues and past students getting drunk on their visits. For schools which will, a prospective student stays overnight on campus with another student. You have the ability to spend time with students and see how they spend their days and nights.

Honors College Programs

These can be a wonderful way for a students in a large university to have a small school experience, and some of the best professors a college has to offer. Quite often they have separate and better dorms as well a special honors classes. They also can have an easier time registering and getting the classes that they want. In many instances these students also receive merit scholarships.

Visiting Colleges


Plan your college visit ahead of time and see a number of suitable colleges in the same geographic area. You can use the website, and click on Trip Planner which can show you routing from one university to another, as well as nearby hotels. Also, when you input each college on the list it usually gives you links to the colleges’ websites so that you can sign up to attend the information session and the tour. Then it will tell you the distance between the schools, and the roads that you can take. Google Maps also works well for trip planning. Do not plan to visit more than two colleges in a day, as it becomes very stressful and hard to remember the details of each college.

Do You Need to Visit

The general rule of thumb that college admissions counselors use is that if you are within four hours of the school, you should take the time to visit the college to show that you are truly interested in them. Further than four hours the school does not require it, but you will need to show interest, see this article Demonstrate Interest. Most big universities do not track your interest level at all, as it is mostly a numbers game for them. If you have chosen the right classes, you have a GPA the college looks for, and test scores in the college’s range, you should get admitted. Touring colleges will hep you determine what is important to you and broaden you understanding of choices, Options for Visiting a College.

Being Engaged

This college visit is an important opportunity for you to really understand what the college can offer you, and if it is a good fit. Do not let your cell phone or a conversation with a friend distract you from this task. Decide which of these questions you want to ask the tour guide, Questions to ask on a College Visit. Silence your cell phone and be engaged so that you have accurate memories.

Eat at the College

I generally recommend that people go to the cafeteria and eat, so that you have an idea of the quality of food and the atmosphere. Additionally you can either observe students or sit down and talk to some and get a more candid picture of the college. You can learn a lot from students who are on campus and they should answer your questions honestly. Just remember that there are many opinions, but the more information that you have the better your decision will be.


I always recommend visiting schools when they are in session so that you can get a better feel for their students and the atmosphere. This can be done during any holidays or spring breaks, as well as quick visits on Saturdays. Most colleges give two tours on Saturdays and some also do Sunday tours. Going in the fall can be a very busy time for colleges, so you may need to plan quite a bit ahead to make sure you can be part of the group. If it is a college that recommends that you interview with an admissions representative on campus, make sure that I have time to prepare you for the interview.

Use My Checklist

Use a checklist to write down your thoughts, so you won’t confuse information from one college campus with another. While you are on the tour ask questions that you have to the tour guide or the person running the information session. Just realize that these people are not always candid, and most are being paid by admissions to represent the college.

After the visit take the time to record what you really liked, as well as the aspects that you did not. Think about whether that school could be your home for the next four years. Put an approximate rank on the school and feel free to change that as you go. These notes will help you when you need to make a decision at the end.