I would suggest visiting the school. When you visit a school, you get a real feel for the personalit yof the campus. I would definitely go when school is in session. That way you can see the students, get a feel for how crowded the campus is, and even sit in on a class. Plus, you can go up to any of the students on campus and ask their honest opinion. When you go to a campus, you know if you want to be there or not. College is such an important decision, you need to be confident in your choice. You need to feel it, not just reed statistics in the hundereds of college magazines and books. While academics and national standings are great and very important when looking for the perfect school, you need to be able to fit in as a student to be happy. Th eonly way you can decide is by taking a college visit and seeing the place you may be spending the next four years of your life.
Students searching for the right college should most importantly start early and consider a number of options. I would strongly advise against narrowing things down too early. Look at schools that are big and small; schools that are in-state and out-of-state; schools that are known for their social scene and schools that are known for their academics. Make sure you pick a school that gives you options. Your college is where you recreate who you are for at least the next four years of your life if not the longer. You need a school that will let you try new things, meet different kinds of people, study a variety of things and then offer you a strong education in that one area that interests you above all else. Look far and wide for a school that offers you those things and then work and play hard to take advantage of opportunities while you are there.
I would tell them that going to your reach school may not be the best idea, if you are not willing to spend most of your time doing work. I would tell them that they should go up to random students on campus and have a conservation with them about the school, so that they get a feel for what life is like at that particular school. When visiting schools take pictures so that you can remember what each campus looked like. Ask about housing, possibly go see a room if it is allowed. See if construction is going to be conducted in the near future while you would be attending the campus. Ask about their Gen Ed programs. I would definatly do an overnight at the school, to try and get a better feel for it. Try and go during a season where the weather isn't so nice. TALK TO THE STUDENTS THERE TO SEE HOW THEY LIKE IT AND WHY THEY DECIDED TO GO THERE!
The advice that I would give to students about making the most of a college experience is to live on campus. There are many opportunities after the first year to try and move off campus and get an apartment, or sometimes you don't even have to live on campus, but you miss such a huge social and academic opportunity by not living in the dorms. Surviving dorm life is almost like a rite of passage for college students. The friends that you make during that time (even though they may not be your roommate) will be your friends for life. Look for colleges and universities that have set up structures such as learning communities for freshman where you live in dorms with the people that you are in classes with. These are usually based on your major, that way you already have a shared interest. Sometimes they are also based on sports or clubs as well.
You don't need to sleep with the first guy who brings you a beer at a toga party. But if you do, don't beat yourself up about it. You don't need to go on a desperate search for a boyfriend just because you're no longer a virgin and yet you've never had a boyfriend. But if you do, just do it in a laid back fashion. When you meet your first true love sophomore year, you don't need to dump him for the blonde ROTC guy. But if you do, don't expect to ever marry your first true love (you might be better off without him anyway.) And about academics, well, just listen carefully in class and read as much as you can of the text. Whatever you do, don't worry too much about the tests and papers. Life will be life, and grades will happen. Just love yourself unconditionally, study what you're passionate about, and live life to the fullest.
My first semester in college at American University was spectacular academically and socially within the context of my new home. However, if I could go back and give myself a pep-talk before I got out here, I would most emphasize the importance of keeping all of my relationships back home as strong as ever. Unfortunately, the only downside of my first semester was dealing with disintegrating friendships and ties to all of my friends left back home. For a few months, I had a tough time dealing with lost friendships and lost love, but I have now managed to rebuild the bridges that had been burned down. So, high school senior me, I would tell you not to let the freedom get to your head and remember just who loves you and who will always be there for you, no matter what. That and, you're going to have a great time out there. Good luck.
If I could go back to high school I would tell myself not to let my fears speak louder than my dreams. In high school I was afraid of rejection from my dream school- so afraid that I never sent in the application. Instead, I settled for a school I had never heard of in a city I had never been to. I spent two dreadful years in Philadelphia, wishing I was in Washington, D.C. Finally, a light went off in my head and I thought, "this is supposed the time of my life. What am I doing?" I applied to American University and moved over the summer. I now am a second semester junior and am wishing I had sent that application! This is my place, but I didn't let myself live the dream until recently. So, I would say to my naive and scared; afraid and insecure 17-year-old self: "Never live in fear. Push your limits and explore your dreams."
Experience and knowledge is an invaluable tool. Attending college gives a person both those things. The knowledge and the experience that I have gained at college has helped me to grow as a person and a student. I often am presented with challenges in both my school life and work life, which I have learned how to managed thanks to living on my own and being responsible for my own work. Knowledge is power. The more one knows can only improve how they interact in society as well as in the work world. Working is essential for the survival of the American people. Given that we operate as a democracy it is important for US citizens to be well educated for the success of our country, and for personal success. Education is invaluable and attending college helps people (like me) become more worldy and grow in new ways.
College is more than about how your life in the future will be. You need to think about how you want to spend the next four year before you think about the next twenty. I know you don't know what you want to do, and that is okay you will change your mind even when you think you have figured it out. Go to a school that will challenge you, but not break your bankand that will offer you every opporunity you deserve, but not make you unhappy. No matter how expensive it may seem at the time, tour the school! It really shows you the atmosphere of the place and offers you insights that you otherwise would have been blind to. This is not meant to be a short process--do not rush. Just breathe and find a place you will be happy and succesful at. Whatever you choose, as long as it is 100% your choice , you will do great.
To find the right college, you need to actually go to the campuses and visit them. It's rather cliched, but when you go to that place you belong, you really will feel like you already belong there, you'll be able to visualize yourself walking around and studying there, hanging out with friends on the quad, and just feel at home, from the first moment you step on campus. When you go to college, to get the most out of it you need to cut a lot of ties with where you come from, especially if you're going far enough away that regular trips home are out of the question. I know it sounds harsh, and I'm not saying to sever all ties, but the last thing you want to do your first semester of college is to constantly wish you were home, and stay in all the time because your "real" friends aren't there.