Happy Sunday, friends!! This post is the 2nd in a series of 4 giving advice to high school students who are going off to college soon. The first post was a college essentials packing list that was published 2 weeks ago, and the next two will be about advice to high school seniors and then about my college decision process and transition to college. Here we go!
To the high schooler who is picking colleges,
Congrats! You’re probably at least halfway through high school! Maybe you’re thriving, or maybe you can’t wait to graduate and never see the people in your graduating class again. Either way, it’s actually time to start thinking about college and where you want to spend “the best 4 years of your life.” This is your decision, and it’s not one to take lightly. Maybe you’ve known exactly where you want to go since before you could talk or maybe the word college makes you shudder. Maybe your parents have been praying that you’ll continue the family tradition at their alma mater or maybe you’re the first in your family to go to college. Narrowing down your favorite schools is a daunting task, but you really need to consider everything before applications start rolling out in the fall. Here are some questions to ask yourself, and advice to help narrow down your decision
- Location – Do you want to stay 15 minutes from home, to live close enough to go home for a weekend, or to move halfway across the country? Do you want to stay instate or go out of state, and is the difference in tuition a deciding factor? Do you want a school in the big city, a small college town, or the middle-of-nowhere?
- Academics – What schools are your safety schools versus your reach schools? Look up the most recent freshman profile for colleges, and compare your own GPA and test scores. Be realistic, and figure out if you do need to retake the SAT or improve your GPA this semester. What do you think you want to major in? (PSA: you literally DO NOT need to know exactly what you want to do right now. IT IS OKAY if you have absolutely no idea.) Do you want to go to a school that specializes in engineering and technology or a liberal arts college?
- Athletics – Do you play a sport and want to continue in college? Do you want to get a scholarship to play your sport or to just join the club team? Do you want to go to a big sports school where everyone is a die-hard football or basketball fan, or could you not care less about sports?
- Student Housing – Do you want to live in an apartment style dorm, suite style, or a shoebox with a community bathroom? Do students typically live on-campus all 4 years or do they live in off-campus houses, sorority/fraternity houses, or apartments after freshman year? Do you want to live at home or are you required to live on-campus?
- Student Involvement – Do you want to get involved in Greek life or would you rather go to a school without a big Greek scene? Do you want to go to a school with 600 clubs or a school with just a few?
- Size – Do you want to go to a huge state school or a small liberal arts college? Do you want a school with a larger population than your hometown or smaller than your graduating class? Do you want to walk 30 minutes to class everyday or have your class be right outside your dorm? Is the campus full of students walking to class or do they have to drive or take a bus?
A school may check all of your boxes, but the most important factor is the feeling you get when you step on campus for the first time. You will know from the vibe you get on campus & from the students. Do the people here love this school with all their heart or are they just waiting to transfer out or graduate? Can you picture yourself thriving, growing, learning, challenging yourself, and finding yourself at this school? If so, then you know that you’ve found your place.
Lastly, it’s important to add that maybe you find your dream school and you aren’t accepted. You picked your dream school, and they didn’t pick you back. It is okay. You may not get in and you end up at your “backup school.” You may be heartbroken. But whichever place you end up with can become your new dream school. You can be happy wherever you are, and wherever you are is where you are meant to be.
The college decision process is not easy, but it’s important to take it all in and consider every option so that you can end up at the best place you can be. Do your research, tour lots of campuses, talk to alumni and current students, and happy applying!