It takes a great deal of time and effort to find the right college. Starting the search your Junior year of high school will ease your stress considerably. The first step is to use your school's college counseling services and all the knowledge and experience that they have to assist you in researching the hundreds of options and narrowing down your choices to a reasonable number of realistic possibilities. They can help you to find the school the best fits your interests, and explain costs, financial aid, loans, and more. Take the time to really find out about each school and visit as many as you can. Summer is a great time for doing research without the stress of homework. Complete each application and any additional essay requirements to the best of your ability and, once again, use your counselors and teachers to help you. Once you've been accepted, making the final choice often comes down to one last visit, hopefully with an overnight stay to really get a feel for the school and its environment. Make the most of your college years by getting involved, and those 4 years will fly by faster than you can believe.
In order to find the right college, I feel it is imperative that a student must visit their top prospective schools, preferably for an overnight stay in a dorm with current students. I discovered that having the opportunity to sit in actual classes, meet the professors, spend time with students and see what life is like on each specific campus for a few days made my final selection an easy and obvious choice. By spending time on the campus of a college, a prospective student is able to get a feeling for the atmosphere of the school, and determine whether or not this is a condusive place for them as an individual. Once in college, to make the most of the experience I would advise always going to class, getting to know the professors by attending office hours, and most of all, participating in activites outside of the academic world. By attending classes, a student can utilize the resources provided by the college, instead of trying to teach themelves. Club participation allows a student to find their niche on campus, as well as giving them an outlet to relax and unwind after a tough day of classes.
Visit the school, and stay overnight. While there, attend classes, but more importantly, TALK to people. Find people in majors you're interested in, discuss what they do and don't like. Discuss social aspects. Discuss academic aspects. Find out how people spend their time - do they have time for all the things they want to do? Are they happy, do they enjoy free time? Do they feel as if their time spent studying/doing homework/in class is time well spent, or do they think their professors are wasting their time on stupid, meaningless assignments? Find out what they have done that they think are cool. Try to get people excited to talk about their work, and their life. People should have excitement for their work; if they don't, something is wrong. You want to be excited about your school, all aspects of it. Remember, college is in large part for discovering yourself, your passions. To do that, you need to be around passionate people. If your classmates are not interested in the work, if your friends are not interested in the campus life, you will neither have a good time nor learn as much as you should.
Finding the right college is easier said than done. There are approximately 4,000 colleges in the US, making it seem impossible to narrow your choice down to one. Sure, your SAT scores, grades, and interests eliminate a considerable number of them, but not enough. It?s almost comparable to finding love; finding the perfect college for you is sort of like finding your soul mate in a sense, frustrating and seemingly hopeless. Never be afraid to explore your options. Imagine yourself living in the dorms, going to classes, and just existing as a college student at X University/College. One day you?ll be reading a brochure or walking down a campus and you?ll think, ?I could be happy here, this place is amazing.? Go for it. Don?t be too hasty in the elimination process. Apply to a college even if it?s thousands of miles away from home. Apply to a college with a median SAT score seventy points above your own. You never know. Life works in mysterious ways. Going to college is primarily for receiving an excellent education, but also remember that college is a fun and exciting adventure. Make the most of it.
So you are ready to go to off to college. Your bags are packed, and you are excited and nervous about your upcoming adventure. It is great to be enthusiastic, but before you leave, take the time to do the things you enjoy and spend time with loved ones. You will soon learn that if you do not live your life fully at each moment, opportunities will pass you by. Make sure that you know how to stay calm and focused, and learn how to take care of yourself. Remember that sleep is a necessity. Your fellow students are also adventurers, as well as future coworkers and confidants. Be friendly and true, but remember that you are your own top priority. You will have many new experiences, some unique to your college. Try to take advantage of them, but remember to keep up with your curriculum. If the curriculum is much harder than you are used to, find help among professors and experienced students. Find an activity you love, a subject area you have passion and some talent for, friends, and a work ethic. When you return home for the holidays, you will be bursting to share your success story.
When you have found the school that fits you best, you know it. I am not a believer in love at first sight, but there is a similar sense of magic. Normally glaring flaws seem to disappear. The ugly buildings go unnoticed because your focus is drawn to the smiling faces of the students. The classes that you would normally dread taking become interesting because the professors are enthusiastic about their lessons. You go on a first date, a visit to the campus. You sit through some classes, eat a meal and if you are really attached, spend the night. You wake up the next morning, and know that this is the school you want to spend the rest of your life with, but much more likely your commitment will only last for the next four years. You know as you mail in your agreement to attend, that you will be a part of this school from this day forward, for better friends and for worse tests, for richer futures and for poorer presents, in sickness and in health, till your degree is complete. And you have no second thoughts, because you know that you have found your perfect match.
Know your passions. College can be a challenging experience for many people, so you need to love what you're doing. When I'm stressed about my college work, I think to myself, "Where would I rather be than here?" And the answer is: no where. I love what I do and the opportunities that my college provides for me to succeed at those passions. That is my motivation. Find what will motivate you at college, and pick the college that will most help you succeed. Do not eliminate colleges based on the price tag. If you find a college that offers the learning environment you need, take advantage of the many scholarship opportunities that exist for undergraduates. Although I attend a very expensive private college, I've found that it is worth every penny. Your education is worth it, too. Most importantly, make many friends in college. You'll meet many different types of people in college, and you'll make friendships for life. Your friends will be there for you during both the rough times and the best times. And believe me, there will be many best times. Enjoy them!
During the application process, try not to decide on a "number one school" -- have several schools in mind, schools where you think you would be very happy. You can choose your favorite AFTER you get in. Visit the schools you are considering if at all possible! Attend classes, talk to professors, and just hang out with the students. Ask lots of questions. Be open-minded. Stay overnight if possible. Apply to any school you think you would want to attend; don't let money stop you from applying. It is better to get accepted and find out how much financial aid you can get than to give up without trying. Maybe you can pit schools against each other to get more financial aid from the one you want to go to. Maybe. Students: Don't let your parents decide for you. Parents: Don't try to decide for your son or daughter. My Dad and I visited schools together, and he refused to give me an opinion about the school until I had given him mine. He really wanted me to choose for myself, and I really appreciated that. Trust. Trust that you will end up in the right place.
Visit as many college campuses as you can. And, if possible, stay the night or at least talk to some real students in their natural environment. The campus tours don't give you the full picture. Don't apply to big-name schools just because of the name. You probably won't enjoy it there. But at the same time don't just apply to the local state school because it's cheapest. You can make good friends at a school where people share more of your interests, and spending a little extra money during these four years may be well worth it. Once you're at college, figuring out how to balance social and study life is the most difficult thing you'll ever do. But, if you neglect either one, you'll be unhappy. Don't be unhappy! Have study groups with friends, and party on the weekends, and take interesting classes. One more thing -- when choosing classes, choose based on the professor, not the topic! A good professor can make you learn much more than a dull one any day. And, you might find a subject you never knew you liked. That's all!
The most important thing is to visit any school you are considering; never just go off reputation or what you have heard about the school. Ideally stay overnight with a student provided the school has such a program for prospective students. Books can tell you alot about a college, but in order to know which one fits you best there really is no substitute for experiencing it first hand. Beyond that, just be true to yourself about what you want out of your college years and pick the college where you feel you will be most comfortable. Making the most out of your college experience is all about finding the appropriate balance between your social life and school work. You are in college to get an education, so take advantage of it by taking as many classes as you can, while still being able to maintain an active social life. Furthermore, college is a time for forming friendships that will likely last a lifetime. Participate in clubs and activities that interest you and meet as many people as you can.