Dickinson College Top Questions

What should every freshman at your school know before they start?


The reality of the college process is that there is no singluar "right" school, but instead many schools that will accommodate your personal style. It is important to embrace the college selection period as a time to reflect on who you are, your values, your needs and determining a college or university that shares or compliments your personality. Quality of education is definitely important, but it is important not to rule out the other factors when making your decision; for instance, a school that might be "ranked" higher may not necessarily be as good of a fit as a school that gives you the personal attention that you need in order to truly excel. As long as you are true to yourself, the college process is an important opportunity to really figure out where you'll be happy for the next 4 years.


I would tell parents and perspective students that the most important part of the college search is finding what makes you happy, not necessarily scouting out the best school you can get into academically. Finding the best fit means finding a student body you feel comfortable with and activities you enjoy. You are going to spend the next four years of your life there, make sure they offer the resources you need and the things you want to pursue as well as academics you can keep up with without a major struggle. Whether you go to a big or small school make sure they have resources you can take advantage of as a student as well as an alumni such as strong career counseling. Most importantly, I would say to make sure to have fun. While the perfect academic fit is important, it?s not worth it if you don?t end up somewhere you truly love. If you don?t end up loving your final choice, you can always transfer so it?s not worth unnecessary stress. The best advice I can give is not to stress, you?ll know the perfect fit when you find it.


Parents- help your kids when they ask for help and at no other time. Picking a school will define your student in ways that will work best for them. Parents don't want their children to be hurt or make mistakes, but giving your student the ability to choose is the most helpful that that you coul dpossible do for them. Students- follow your heart, but be willing to take a chance on something. You know what you like best and you know what feels right. Don't make a decision just to make someone happy. Also, start early. Do NOT wait until the last possible second to start looking because you will miss out on amazing schools. Don't be blinded by what other people say.


I'd suggest you look for a campus where you feel like you fit in. Names only mean so much. The education you get at your school of choice is all that really matters. It doesn't matter if you go to Harvard or the local community college. If you invest your time and efforts in your institution, as long as you've picked one that will work for you, you can achieve whatever you set out to achieve.


The most important advice is to have a positive outlook, and choose colleges to apply to that make you the happiest. Choose a college where you can take advantage of every social, academic, and extracurricular opportunity that you've ever wanted to try. Try anything and everything, and meet as many people as you can along the way. It's important to go to a school that has good programs and professors in what you're interested in, but it's likely you go into college with no idea what you want to study, and even if you do you change your mind. The most important part of a good college experience is picking a place that makes you happy.


I think it is most important for the student to find a school where they feel comfortable and feel that they "fit." When I was looking at Dickinson, I felt that this was a school where I fit. It had all the majors I was potentially looking at. The core values of Dickinson also appealed to me. Emphasis on study abroad options, the idea of engaging the world, and a useful education all were important to me. Also, I would suggest going with the flow. Everything might not work out the way you want it to, but things happen for a reason. If you don't feel something for a school, even if it's the best school in the country, you're not going to be happy. Do what you want to do, and not what you are expected to do; your mental and physical well-being will be much better.


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Applying to a school that you feel comfortable at and that fits YOU is actually much more important to your overall success than picking the one you got into with the best acedemics. REALLY!


The only advice I can give is based off of my own experiences. I visited many schools and found many things I liked about each of them. However, when I did an overnight visit with a student from Dickinson, I knew I felt at home. While academics, extra-curriculars, sports, and everything else are important in making the choice, being comfortable where you are will ultimately make your college experience. When you get on campus and enjoy being there, you will take advantage of what is already there and work to make changes in areas where you want to see improvement. I see many students that are less than happy with their college experiences, but that is because they are waiting for something to happen to them rather then making it happen themselves. The right college is one where you feel comfortable but also one where you will become active in shaping your own life.


When you go on college tours, take notes immediately after you leave. Colleges will start to blend together after the 10th or 11th one you've seen- especially if they're all similar (e.g. all small liberal arts schools)


To find the college that fits perfectly with a student, it is extremely important to focus on the student's preferences. The size of the college or university is an important factor. Going to a small school like Dickinson College has many advantages, including smaller class sizes, which gives the student a chance to actively participate in class discussions and debates. Another important factor is the location. Some students prefer to be (and work better) when they are surrounded by people. In this instance, a larger university should be considered. Lastly, potential post college careers should be considered. It may be difficult finding a reputable program in aquatic sciences in middle America or an astronomy program in a large city (due to light polution).


Visit lots of schools, and apply to at least five or six schools. This way, you can weight the pros and cons of each academic establishment over a longer period of time. It will help, and if I could go back to my junior and senior years of high school again, I would certainly take the college search a little more seriously.


Visiting a college and taking a tour will give you a much better idea what the school is about than any online forum ever will. Try to meet students on campus and possibly stay overnight with one through Admissions in order to get a feel for a "typical" day on campus. Take time to go to classes and enjoy your time while meeting some professors!