Don't be so worried about picking the perfect school. College will be a fun and rewarding experience no matter where you end up, as long as you are open to new people and new experiences. Plenty of people that are accepted into the college of their dreams find out that it's not as great as they thought it would be. This is the time of your life to have fun and begin learning what it means to be an adult, so don't take it too seriously. If you worry too much about the particular school, you'll probably end up being unhappy no matter where you are. Life is full of surprises and change, so don't be afraid to just go with the flow.
If I could give my highschool self advice it would be this: Concentrate on the basics. I would tell myself to do more independent studying instead of relying on just what my teachers tell me. I would also have done alot more volunteer work and tried to join more clubs and make friends with lots of types of people. I've discovered that in college you really do have to buckle down and study. In highschool you can get by doing a minimum amount of work but in college you really need to spend a couple of hours a day studying. I would tell myself to not be so nervous, work hard and look forward for the great things to come in college.
The best advice I could have given myself would have to be enjoy the time you have left with your graduating class. I do not now how many times I found myself missing the friends I had made during my senior year. I would also have told myself to apply for more scholarschips, especially the ones that were sent out through email by the guidance counselor. The last thing I would have told myself would be put more work into the college decision. I almost wish I had chosen a school closer to home and one that was one that was not as expensive, but I love Loyola and would not leave it after all the network connections I have made.
Look for more scholarships, like the Gates Millenium Scholarship, and don't slack off after school. Do more extra curriculars and volunteer activities. Get to know your teachers better and give them recommendation letter forms faaaaar ahead of time. Save up some money, it makes college more fun. And build up your credit so you get the best pick of loan interest rates. Most of all, have fun with your friends because when you go to college, you'll have to start all over again. You're going to miss them. All in all, cherish your friends, get out there and do some out of school activities, and get financially competent!
Find a place you love first. Go look at cities around your university and decide whether or not you like the city. Better yet, think of a city you love and look there for schools. This may even be your hometown! If you find yourself in a place that you love, it will be much easier to deal with the transition from home to a new place. Look at the places you'll be living, as often a bad living environment result in unnessecary stress and sometimes depression. Little things that are often overlooked can make your college experience worse than it should be, so make sure to pay attention to the often overlooked things.
I would give myself the advice to prepare better in math. Instead of selecting all honors classes in every subject except Math, I would take the harder math now and place more emphasis on learning the harder math oppposed to being overly concerned about keeping my GPA at a 4.0 without the tougher math. My preparation would be different with the Math. I would also try and find out more about the university's history as it plays an important role in why the staffers feel the way they do about the students and their reputation. I would not trade my decision about attending Loyola, I just needed to study it more!
I have gotten an extremely valuable education from my college experience. The experience has opened my eyes to the views that different people have and to learn to accept those views for what they are and realize that while I may not agree, just because a person has different views than I do, does not mean that I cannot be friends with that person. I have made a lot of new friendships and have had some experiences that will last me a lifetime. For me college has not been all about partying, I have learned to become a more responsible and respectful person. I would not change my college years for anything.
When searchin for a college don't be afraid to just apply to different places. You'll never know what financial aid they'll give. Tour all colleges and try to understand which environment feels right to you. Take into consideration all of the services a college offers because it tells you a lot about the college. Talk to students to attend the college to get a true insider's view. When in college, keep your priorities straight. Know how to balance yours classes. Don't be afraid to drop a class if you feel your load is too heavy. Have fun while you can because college only comes once in your life.
The most important bit of advice I would give myself as a highschool senior is to be prepared for change. When I first moved onto campus, I was surrounded by a community that had a lot in common with me, so socially, the adjustment came naturally. I was unprepared, however, for the disparity in coursework. In highschool, I had achieved high grades without much effort. In the new environment, I found myself struggling but unsure of how to go about garnering help. Rather than ask professors or friends, I attempted to wallow through on my own and ended up with grades lower than I would have liked.
Before I went to college, I knew what my values were and there was nothing or no one was going to change that. Now that I have finished my freshman year of college, I can say that while I have been exposed to different ways of viewing things, I am still true to myself and what I believe in. Staying true to self is something that I find very important, especially when you are introduced to a enew environment with new people and new freedoms. The most valuable thing about college so far is being in a place surrounded by other bright individuals where I can continue to form my opinions and beliefs.