Apply everywhere. Apply to colleges on a whim. Visit every campus. Talk to current students. Talk to alumni. Spend a weekend sleeping on the floor of a current student's dorm room. Forget about SAT scores. No one will care about them in a year anyway. Go to the college that you fall in love with the instant you step on campus. Trust your gut.
Once you're there, try everything. Get drunk once, with people you trust, and then use your time to pursue activities more fun and interesting than binge drinking. Play Ultimate Frisbee. Go out for an intramural sport you've never played. Go to club meetings where you don't know a soul. Introduce yourself to everyone. Invite your professors to coffee; get to know them as human beings, not just lecturers. Hang out in the library stacks. Find the hole-in-the-wall pizza place off-campus that serves the best calzones you'll ever eat. Volunteer in the local community. Open your mind to everything, everyone, and every possible experience and sensation. You only get to do this once, and trust me, you won't want to miss a second of it.
Finding the right fit in a college may be easier than it seems. When a student arrives on campus and looks around and feels comfortable and excited, that is how he/she knows it is right; however, not all students get that on their first visit. For a high school student, visit the campus and stay overnight. Meet as many people as possible; ask these people about their college experiences. The more people one asks, the better he/she will understand the feel of the campus. But don't be too quick to judge: maybe the campus with lots of active Greek houses is exactly the social life a student wants but he doesn't realize it yet. Maybe she shouldn't rule out this college for being in a rural location because maybe getting away from the city and appreciating the foliage, snow, and spring flowers is exactly what she needs.
When it comes to making the most of the college experience, I have three words: Just Do It! Join that club. Step out of your comfort zone. Meet those new people: they may just be your best friends. Get involved (...just not too involved.) You can do it!
College selection is overblown. There are many schools around the country that are all very similar to each other. I don't believe that college selection is the crucial component of a succesful experience but rather what the student makes of the college picked.
I applied to 18 colleges, whichever one's I thought were "the best". I am so glad I ended up at Dartmouth, I can't imagine being anywhere else. Make sure you love your college. Visit before you go and make sure it's the right thing. I thought I wanted a big city, but I am completely content in a small college town. Do not reject a college without carefully considering it. Although make sure there are things for you to do. If you are obsessed with shopping, then don't go to a college in the middle of nowhere. If you hate the cold, stay out of the North East (but really, the cold isn't so bad. try it!) But most importantly, don't be afraid of what's different! I come from Southern California and now spend my year in the snowy clutches of New Hampshire. Is it cold, yes? Am I the happiest I have ever been in my life, yes? Try new things! Teachers and administrators were hired to make your life easier so don't be afraid. The dean isn't your high school principal, they help, not punish, you. (and have fun!)
Go with your gut feeling. The initial reaction that you have when first setting foot on campus is stronger than anything a tour guide could tell you. If you find a college that feels right, GO FOR IT.
Choose a place in which you can imagine yourself learning, growing, and being happy for 4 YEARS. Consider not only your current academic and extracurricular interests and your potential career plans but also the social climate of the school.
I was lucky to find the college that suited me excellently. When I first stepped on the Dartmouth campus (this will sound so corny), I felt like I was home. I perform well at Dartmouth because I feel comfortable, though I do have some grievances. Sometimes I feel out of place being in a predominantly white college, because I'm Nigerian. However, I 'm from West Windsor, NJ which does have a high white population but the Asian population is very high too. Yet, I never felt so uncomfortable that it affected my studies, but this won't necessarily apply to everyone. When choosing a college, study the demographics because it may be an opertive factor in deciding whether to attend a college or not. Also, note what majors college offers. Someone who is intersted in computer engineering shouldn't necessarily look at Dartmouth because we don't have as strong of a background in that field as others do. I work best in small classrooms and tend to get anxious in large lectures so focus on the size of the school. At the end of the day, I believe that a school is what you make it.
Make sure you really can handle how much is going on at this school. While it is a good place for an amibitious student, it might not necessarily be the greatest choice for someone prone to destructive social behavior, as there is a LOT of binge drinking, random sex, and drug usage. So, just be aware that while there are plenty of wonderful things to do here academically, the rowdy social life can be very distracting. If you're going to come to Dartmouth, make sure you take advantage of all the amazing opportunities here early on-- learn a language, do some freshman year research, write a thesis, and make some plans for yourself. Otherwise you might find yourself in a confusing situation where it's your senior year and you have no idea what you want to do with your life!
Do not look at reputation. Look at average class size (be wary of intro classes which are usually large), size of campus, financial aid, extra curricular activities, tuition, location/type of campus, and whether the school offers classes that serve your interests.
Picking the right college is crucial for one's success, both in school and life after school. The key aspect for picking the perfect college is visiting campuses. Visiting campuses of schools which interest you allow an in depth look at life and give you a first look at your potential future. Another important aspect for success is involving yourself in every possible social outlet avaliable to you. Most schools offer countless social clubs and organizations which promote diversity and social networking within the student body. These clubs offer different ways to meet new people and branch out.
Parents should know that there is no "right" college. For any given student, there will be dozens of destinations where he/she will thrive in. That said, the first step to picking one among the many is having an honest, broad conversation with your child about future plans. Trust that your child, under your guidance for the last seventeen years, has matured to the point where they are capable of making sound decisions, and know that your role within this context is that of a moderator, not a planner. Begin the search and application process by junior year and let your child set a tentative timeline detailing college visits, test schedules, etc. And always keep in mind that your child's prospects neither begin or end with an undergraduate acceptance.
The single largest mistake I see parents make in regards to making the most of the college experience is a lack of involvement in their child's lives after he/she is settled in the freshman dorm. Before and after the schoolyear, talk to your kids about alcohol consumption, long-term career plans and goals, their social lives, and their academic adjustment. And keep the conversation running until graduation.
Ask older students
To the students:
Hey there! I know that the college process has been a long and tiresome road, but honestly, even if you don?t end up at your top choice, it is completely fine. College isn?t something that should determine who you are and who you will become, but rather, a place that you should get to know yourself and discover what you enjoy. I know that some poeple believe college is just a stepping stone into a better career, but it really is the last time you can enjoy being a kid. Even my own parents admit that the thing they most regret about college is not having as much fun as they could have had. Don't get me wrong, college is a place to broaden your intellectual horizons, but I have seen way too many kids who have sacrificed their college years holed up in their dorm rooms studying for days on end, rather than learning how to appreciate life a little bit more. Don't go crazy, but trust me, you'll appreciate life a whole lot more if you learn to do so while you're still young.
It's all about feel. As soon as I arrived on the campus where I now go to school, I knew I wanted to work, study, and live there. I never regretted my decision and I would make the same choice if I had to do it all over again. Parents: let your children decide where they want to go for themselves. If you force a college on them, they won't be happy at their institution and will probably not succeed. Your child needs to be happy and excited about where they are going. Students: take initiative. Start your college application (and essay, especially) early so you don't have to scramble at the end. High school can be overwhemling so take your time and plan ahead so you don't get too stressed. Be honest with yourself about the kind of place you want. Don't let your parents, siblings, or friends influence you. If you've always wanted to go to school in Montana, go for it! Don't let others influence your decision. Last, have fun! These are the best years of your life, so remember that...
My only advice is to look beyond the pretty picture that schools give you. I suggest speaking with students and ask more than one student because some aren't honest about their true feelings on the school. I asked but I asked the wrong questions and sometimes I wonder if I had really picked the right school for me. On the other hand, I have tried to be as involved in my school as I possibly can because it has brought me closer to the school in so many ways, in terms of people, job opportunities, etc. So, although I sometimes wonder, I know that the best thing to do is just be out and about, not moping in one's room, letting life pass one in front of one's eyes.
College is a blast - don't get caught up searching for "the perfect college," chances are that whatever college you go to will be perfect for you.
The most important piece of advice I could convey to parents and students about finding the right college is to be open minded. There are excellent colleges across the country and some will be a better fit for students than others. If students remain open minded they will see that there are places that might be a better fit for them than the local state school or community college. With all the financial aid colleges are offering these days, students can afford to go almost anywhere. Therefore, they should do their research, find the school that is right for them, and work to make it happen. Don't be fooled into trusting the reputation of a school once you've found it. Visit it, get to know some of the students, and make a more informed decision. A lot of schools end up being very different from how they are portrayed in books. The best source for what a school is really like: the students who attend it.
You can enjoy yourself at any college if you approach the experience without unbridled enthusiasm, but a more wary optimism. There's no way to say that you picked the best place when you're having a great time, or that you made the worst mistake of your life when you're in the dumps. Every school offers a unique approach to academics and social life, but in the end it's a desire to learn and socialize that make college what you want it to be. And remember, college is supposed to be the best years of your life, but no school can offer the perpetual happiness that some foolishly expect.
Like life, the college experience is one of hills and valleys; emotionally, socially, and academically. However, this doesn't mean that you should give up searching for a good fit. Try to find a school that matches your personality. The best way to know if you'll love a place is the people there, not its reputation, its famous professors or its infamous party scene. The students are the best reflection of the school, not college guides or survey results.
Go where you feel most comfortable.
For any kid who did not grow up in america this is a tough school to go to. It'll challenge you, and break you, but if you hold on and get through it, there are some valueable lessons you learn. I met some of my best friends here
Parents: Do not put too much pressure on your college bound kids. If your kids have an idea about what they want to do and where they want to go let them make their own decisions.
Students: Your parents aren't idiots. They know a thing or two about life. Don't be so quick to shut down some of the ideas they are throwing your way. If it weren't for my parents telling me to apply to Dartmouth, I would have missed out on an amazing college experience.
Narrow down over 1,000,000 scholarships with personalized results.
Get matched to scholarships that are perfect for you!
Disclosure: EducationDynamics receive compensation for the featured schools on our websites (see “Sponsored Schools” or “Sponsored Listings” or “Sponsored Results”). So what does this mean for you? Compensation may impact where the Sponsored Schools appear on our websites, including whether they appear as a match through our education matching services tool, the order in which they appear in a listing, and/or their ranking. Our websites do not provide, nor are they intended to provide, a comprehensive list of all schools (a) in the United States (b) located in a specific geographic area or (c) that offer a particular program of study. By providing information or agreeing to be contacted by a Sponsored School, you are in no way obligated to apply to or enroll with the school.
The sources for school statistics and data is the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.
This is an offer for educational opportunities that may lead to employment and not an offer for nor a guarantee of employment. Students should consult with a representative from the school they select to learn more about career opportunities in that field. Program outcomes vary according to each institution’s specific program curriculum. Financial aid may be available to those who qualify. The information on this site is for informational and research purposes only and is not an assurance of financial aid.