To students: Be true to yourself and what you want. Really think about what is important to you. Think deeply. Talk to students who go there, and go with your gut instinct. Try not to stress too much about it, you are allowed to change your mind, and you are allowed to not know. But, be open to new ideas, and make sure you visit! To parents: Be a resource for your child. Don't force your opinions on them, but offer guidance and support when they need it. Take them to visit many different colleges. Help them, but let them make their own decisions. And if you get there and don't love it immediately, put effort into getting involved, and trying to make the most of it. And if it still isn't the right fit, don't be afraid to transfer.
Almost any college can be academically challenging if you make the most of their resources. Most colleges can be fun, too, although commuter schools can make it hard to make friends sometimes. I'd say the most important factor is deciding what is right for you as far as urban/suburban/rural is concerned. To make the most of your college experience, just GET INVOLVED! Try out for as many activities as you can; you can always quit or go back later if you've signed up for too much or it's not something you're interested in. If you don't sing or dance, go to performances. If you don't play sports, still go to games. It's a way for different types of people to share a common experience, and it really gets you into the school spirit.
The best advice would be to think. I feel that before one can make a choice as to which colleges to go, or which ones to apply, it is important to think about what you want and what you expect from college, and which colleges best fulfill these aspirations. Making a decision to apply and attend a university based on its location and supposedly good academics are insufficient factors for deciding on a school, because one may often find that a university does not meet the expectations one has for college. Or a school may not be what you want. Therefore, it is important to know what it is that you want from college, before you make a decisions on where to apply or where to go. By doing so, it saves you from a terrible experience.
I would tell myself not to be afraid of the college transition. One of the biggest things that held me down was homesickness and always feeling that things weren't going how they should be. I pictured college life being something you can just jump into and have the time of your life, but I was sadly mistaken. It takes time to get used to being away from home, making new friends, and taking new classes. It's all worth it in the end though. Although at the time it may feel like the end of the world, you do get adjusted and good things are coming the longer you stay at school. College is only four years of your life, so make the most of it while you can. Be patient, take risks, and try new things: it is all going to be fine.
I would definitely advise visiting the college and doing as much research as you can to find out if you would be a good fit for the school. Also, visit many schools to get an idea of what you do or don't like so you can narrow down the selection. I would talk to students or faculty at the school to get a better sense of what the school is like and if it is something you are looking for. Make sure it has the resources you want or need and that you can definitely see yourself attending the school and enjoying it. To make the most out of the college experience, try and learn as much as you can and get to know people on a different level. Everyone has something to offer and there is so much to learn-embrace it!
You need balance in everything. While a top school may be great, you really need to find the right one. Being driven in high school doesn't always translate perfectly in college, there are countless distractions and adjustments. Spend time on campus, make sure you think you will enjoy the culture and the community, because that is what will help you acheive what you want. Stats about the school are good, but the people and teachers matter more. Big schools also may seem intimidating but they quickly will being a tight community that would make it seem much smaller. You ave to go to campus, meet people, and make sure you can work hard and play hard there, a good balance.
First and foremost I would advise myself to slow down and take life less seriously. My life changed very much when I entered college, and I would have liked to savor and enjoy my last months of high school a little more. I would also advise myself to open my mind to the new experiences that I would encounter when I transitioned to college. By entering this new chapter in my life with a completley open mind, I feel like I could have taken advantage of more oportunities that were offered to me. At times I was too shy or hesitant to try something new or different than what I knew. I would have liked to have stepped out of my comfort zone more than I did.
Besides the name and whether or not the college is prestigious should not be the major reason for attending a school. You must seek out the college that will best fit you-socially, academically, financially. It would be best to ask students who attend the college from various different backgrounds, majors, or ethnic groups their opinion on the school. Look for places that provide great advising support in order for you to select the right path to graduate in 4 years. Check out the living arrangements. Make sure to get the opinion of those who have recently graduated or are alumni and see how their degree has helped them after college.
I would tell parents and students to not just judge colleges on the facts and statistics but on their atmospheres and the connection you feel with a school. No matter where you choose to go, college is what you make it. Get involved, get to know as many different people as you can, work hard and play hard and make sure you've left a mark on your school when you leave so that you will always be a part of it just like it will always be a part of you. College is as much about life experience and growing up as it is about academics and getting a job so make sure you take the time to enjoy it and really experience it, it goes by fast!
I would definately start out by telling my self to stay focused on my goals. Then I would have to say that I have great opportunity that is ahead of me and to do everything possible to make sure that I exhaust all my energies into getting good grades and dont worry about growing up so fast, as at that time working was one of my main focuses and should not have been. The horizons and opportunities that are coming are far better then you could imagine and that do not waste time on distractions and become centered with your goals, and life is very short and you cant change your past but you are in control of your future.