During this stressful time of the year, high school seniors around the nation are planning the next four years of their life and potentially their entire future. But don’t be overwhelmed because choosing the right college is actually a very fun and exciting process. Think about it–after all those tedious applications and long weeks waiting for admission results, you’ve finally made it to the other side and now it’s YOUR turn to be the picky one. So take the time to really think about what you want and how you would like to grow.
Here are some tips I have after going through the experience myself:
1) Visit the school (and pretend to be a student there).
You honestly don’t know what a school is like until you’ve physically stepped on to its campus. To walk across the quad or to sit inside a dining hall can do so much more than researching online or hearing things through word of mouth. I would even recommend taking a personal tour of the school in addition to a university organized one just because it’s so important to give yourself as much exposure to the school’s environment as possible–for example, find out what it’s like to grab a cup of coffee between classes or how to find a study spot on a busy Wednesday. These little details might seem insignificant, but they do represent a lifestyle that you will have to adapt to and embrace.
2) Talk to current students (and ask to see their dorms if you can, hehe).
It’s extremely helpful to get insight from current students because their college experience is fresh and might be very relevant to the type of experience you are seeking. Of course many students you talk to might be biased, but you can really pick up on how genuinely they enjoy their school by their body language and facial expressions. Because trust me, if a kid loves their school, IT WILL SHOW!
3) Mind your major.
Whether or not you have decided what you are going to major in, it’s important to at least gauge some of your interests and be aware of the programs/opportunities the school offers. For instance, if you’re planning on studying business, but also want to explore a film minor, a university that has not only a business school, but also cinema school is definitely a plus.
4) Seriously consider weather.
Coming from Seattle, I couldn’t have been more excited to go to sunny California. After 18 years of living in too much rain, I just knew I needed a change of scenery. And to be perfectly honest, the weather has made a tremendous difference because my mood is ten times better when I wake up in the morning with the sun peeping through my window. For you, it might be different, but be warned: 30 degrees can sound reasonable when you’re tucked away in a warm place–just remember you’re still going to have to go to class when it snows/rains/hails.
The weather back home vs in SoCal…
5) To sum everything up: pick a school you can truly picture yourself at.
While it’s really easy to get caught up with rankings, statistics, and prestige, there’s more to college than just academics, so do your research and apply to universities that are also a good match for you in terms of location, size, student life, etc. I got lucky because USC turned out to be the perfect fit for me; not only did it have the amazing programs and professors I wanted, but it was also a place I could consider home. Remember, your university is where you’ll be spending some of the most exciting years of your life!