When preparing for college, I would begin with one broad self-evaluative question: do I have a specific passion that I want to pursue with all my heart, or do I want to explore the potential opportunities that exist in my world. There is no right answer to this question, but it will dictate the way in which you choose your path. I would suggest deeply thinking about this question before moving forward with your college career, even if it means researching options on both sides of the spectrum. Another way to think about this dichotomy is: what do I want to get out of college? Some want to become a professional in a field, others simply crave the experience of learning how to learn. If you feel passionate about a profession or skill that you are already developing, consider looking into professional schools or colleges that offer hands-on, practical classes. If you are unsure of your focus and want to learn more about the possibilities that exist, look towards a more liberal arts based college in which you are able to take many classes in different subjects before focusing. BE TRUE TO YOURSELF, not a slave to expectations.
It's fun getting all of this freedom at once; one minute you have to raise your hand to go to the bathroom and the next you have the option to sleep in and miss class with basically no repercussions. However, just because you have the freedom to do whatever you want doesn't mean you can blow off school to have fun with your friends. But also remember that you should have some fun because these are supposed to be the best years of your life. You need to have a balance between school work and social time. And also remember to call your family every once in a while even if it's just to let them know that you're still alive.
These are the words I would say to my high school self, loudly and clearly:
1. Find what you are passionate about and have a natural affinity for and concentrate on that. You do not have to excel at everything.
2. Spend more time with your little sister. You never know when she may walk right out of your life.
3. Boys will find you sooner than you know (or want, perhaps). Stop looking for them.
4. Your dad is going to cry hard and long on his way home from dropping you off at college. You won't know this until four years after graduating from college. So tell him you will come home often. Go home more often.
5. You will never finish all the reading you are assigned in college. Stop trying. Learn to skim, focus on the important stuff, and then go have an adventure or take on a leadership role.
6. Stop labeling friends "best." Best is a relative word, and everything changes.
7. Seven is not lucky--it's just a number. Karma does not always play out the way you think it should. And spirituality has to be sought and worked for.
I've made some great friends and gotten to do a lot of fun activities.
Just fill out those applications. Send them all over the place. Tell every school that they're your first choice (don't let your honest tendencies take over in this particular case.) The more schools you apply to, the more you'll get in to, the more likely you'll be offered bigger and better scholarships. In a few years your family will be feeling intense financial stress, so take that into consideration when you make your decision. Before choosing, wait to hear back from the financial aid office at Santa Clara! They may cut you a sweet deal. Continue to work hard in highschool, but don't let everybody freaking out throw you off. There is no sense in worrying. Just do your thing. Work hard, and balance that with other activities that make you happy. Spend lots of time with your family. Before you know it, you'll be living away from home for most of the year. So get outside and go swimming with your brothers.
Don't worry about when you get to college. Just be yourself. Be confident. Be comfortable. You're going to love it.
I would go back in time to teach myself about time management and course selections.
don't enter the hook up culture
"I cannot wait to go to college" my 17 year old self says, as she turns the corner to enter the kitchen.
"Too true, but enjoy where you are at the moment" I wisely admonish. She squels, leaps back, stubs her toe and proceeds to hop around holding her toe in immense pain.
"Who, what...?" she pants.
"Lets sit outside for a moment" I suggest, taking her by the shoulders and leading her outside. After a few minutes of her curiously examining her future self, we both sit back and enjoy the African sun.
"My only advice to you is, enjoy your life here while you can. I have amazing friends, great classes, and a gorgeous school, but you will miss home. The parents will move after your first semester, and after that final visit you may come back. So take a deep breath and experience all that Zambia has to offer. You will undoubtedly love college. The initial culture shock of the United States will have you begging for n'shima and relish, but you will adapt quickly and love Middlebury. But use your unique experiences to understand and help others. "
She nods and I dissappear.
Start by asking yourself basic, key questions. Region/location of the campus will largely affect how happy you'll be there, and thus how engaged and enthusiastic you are about your academics and extra-curricular activities. Urban versus rural is an important question. Big or small? I attended a small liberal arts college in a rural environment. I was always comfortable in terms of safety, but I was challenged in the classroom. I couldn't hide in the back of a huge lecture hall. I loved it, but not everyone can find happiness through such an experience. After narrowing your search, consider the balance you want to strike between academics and extra-curricular/social endeavors. More academically rigourous schools undoubtedly tilt that balance, but they may better prepare you for post-collegiate plans, especially in terms of networking, alumni connections, etc. That said, I think the most important element of the search is gut feeling. Don't choose a school soley because of a name. That indescribable and powerful excitement you feel when considering a school is inevitably better than misery, or even apathy, at an Ivy, a major party school, a parent's alma mater, or anything in between.
Maybe this is just me speaking from a liberal arts background, but I think parents and students should be much less focused on a particular plan or path and allow themselves to consider the broader experience of college when deciding where to go or apply.
Do not make the mistake of thinking that most of the learning you do in college will happen in the classroom. In fact, while academics constitutes a vital portion of your college experience, you will learn at least as much if not more from your extracurricular and social experiences at college. With this fact in mind, it is important to base your college choice not only on academic programs, but also on the overall quality of the student body. So go visit. Stay overnight. Look into clubs and ask about favorite pastimes on campus. Pay attention to the current students and the other prospective students. Ask yourself: Could I be friends with these people? Could I live with them? Are they interesting people from whom I could learn a great deal? And most of all: Will they support me in my life?s endeavors? Ultimately, you must decide not only where to go to school, but also with whom to go to school. The price tag for your education does not only cover your classes. It covers your community for the next four years.
find your personal fit.
I don't think it necessarily matters whether the school is ranked first or fiftieth, whether it's public or private, etc. What matters most is that you are comfortable there and can see yourself making it your home and pretty much your whole world for four years. If at all possible, you really must visit your top choices after preliminary research. There is simply no substitute for spending time at the school while it is in session. You just cannot get a sense of its culture otherwise.
Think about the life you'd like to have after college. Think about the freedom to explore that you want during college. Try to find a school whose alumni network best fits your goals and whose campus life best embodies your academic goals. Don't focus overly on the opportunity to drink or party. The more networking you are able to do during school and the more personal responsibility you can and want to take for your academic performance, the more likely it will be that you are happy with your college experience. The college you choose is the first major decision that you make toward shaping the kind of life you will be able to have.
When you are 18 years old and in the thick of your senior year of high school, it can be difficult to know what you value in and want out of life. Before you begin applying to college, it is vital that you engage in some soul searching to help you determine what is important to you. Do you value social justice? Are you a life-long learner? Are your politics conservative or liberal? Are you a steward of the environment? What do you hope to get out of your education? The answers to these and other similar questions should serve as a guide to you as you search for the college that is the right fit for you.
When you get to college, it is important for you to keep an open mind and an open heart. You will encounter people who are different from you with regard to their ethnicity or race, sexual orientation, religious practices and beliefs, political views, etc. Your college experience will be enhanced through all that you can and will learn from them. Moreover, your college will probably offer a wide array of extra-curricular activities you have not experienced before. Try new things!
Choosing a college is the most important and potentially life-altering decision a person will ever make. If you make the wrong choice, not only will your undergraduate experience be essentially worthless, but you yourself will never be the same and may very well have ruined any chance you had at a happy, successful life. Good luck!
Obviously, none of that is true. Visually over-stimulating college guidebooks and tours, entire industries dedicated to making sure you choose the perfect college for you; these shouting voices have a point, the college you choose IS important. But more important is what you do when you're there. Any school can be the perfect school for you if you take the time to explore and intelligently exploit the resources that the school and its environment have to offer with an open mind. They are all in the business of making you a better, brighter person in four years or less. So go ahead, look for that college that calls out to you and sings your song. But no matter where you end up, remember that it's your life and it is what you make it. So make it good. Good luck!
I would advice parents to try and not heavily influence their child's college choices because ultimately their sons and daughters should be the ones that feel happy about where they are going. Also, it is always a plus to visit schools and the moment you get a wrong vibe you know t is not the school for you.
When deciding on a college, do not limit yourself in any way. Apply for a few reach schools, especially those that you are particularly interested in. If you think that you want to go to a university, do not dismiss a college that you are interested in simply because you think it is too small. It might not be what you think you want, but in the end it could turn out to be the best decision you could have made. Always visit the schools that accept you before making your decision; if I had not visited Middlebury before making my decision I probably would not have gone because it was so far away from home. When you are making your final decision it is crucial to go with your gut. Not everyone has the experience of walking onto a campus and instantly knowing that it is the place for them, but usually you have an idea of what is best for you. Once you are in college, be open to new experiences. Join a club or a group on campus, it is a great way to meet new people outside of your dorm or classes.
vist your school and do a dorm stay
There is nothing better than visiting each school being considered. How can you get a feel for a college, its campus, or the surroundings without going there?
Visits make all the difference in the world with regards to understanding the community of that college. Students will only really enjoy and make the most of their college experience if it's the right fit for them, and that is going to be hard to determine without going to the campus, meeting some students, and getting the overall feel of the community there.
Don't stress out too much senior year - in many ways how much you enjoy college has more to do with you than with where you go. Tour a lot of schools at first, it will help you get a feel for what fits right, once you find a school that gives you that gut feeling, tour more schools that are similar to it. When you get to college, try to have fun - really work at enjoying yourself. It's easy to fall into a rut and cut yourself off in your room. And most of all remember everyone else is going through the same thing. Its easy to think you're the only person feeling lonely or overwhelmed, and that you're diong something wrong. You're not. Others are feeling that way too, and the best way to deal with it is to get away from yourself - work out, go out, with a group or on your own. Don't wallow. And try new things, always and all the time, throughout four years. You never know what you'll love until you give it a shot.
Ask attending students how well they know their professors and how much interaction they receive. Weigh that with what you want out of your education.
Apply to LOTS of schools, with long-shots and backups included. It's better to have options once you start getting letters back. Before you make your final decision, you should really visit the campus, talk with enrolled students, and stay overnight if at all possible. When you start school, balance your time between academics, new extracurriculars, new friends, and keeping in touch with friends and family back home. It's important to try out new things, but don't burn yourself out. You'll have plenty of time to hone in and concentrate your efforts on your passions during your junior and senior years.
Your kid will like college. don't worry about where they end up.
Educate yourself. Become immersed in the culture of the school. Talk to current students. Talk to alumni. Find out what they liked and didn't like about the school. If you're an athlete, you need to consider if you will still be happy at the school if you're not able to compete in sports.
Don't regret your decision. College is what you make out of it. Only you know which college is right for you.
The best advice I ever received: When visiting college campuses, look around at the students and ask yourself, "Would I want to go out to coffee with these people?" It's a simple question, but when it comes down to it, a school can have all the best credentials in the world, but if you aren't fascinated by the people who walk around on campus, you won't enjoy yourself over the next four years.
Other than that, my only advice is to make your seach personal. You can get all the statistics and facts on a college's website. When you go to visit, try to live like a student, even if only for a few hours. Read the campus newspaper, stay overnight in a dorm, ask a group of students if you can join them for lunch in the dining hall. (The last one can be scary, but most students will be more than happy you asked.) In the end, it's always best to go with your gut feeling!
That's ok, I don't want to enter the contest, I just wanted to fill out the survey.
At the end of the day you need to find a college which will allow you to expand your horizons and grow both intellectually and socially, while simultaneously giving you the freedom to be yourself. If you find yourself focused on one aspect of the search--i.e. strong biology department, near a big city, great party scene--you are forgetting that college is not a place, it is an experience that will continue to change and adjust over the two or four years you attend. College is neither tangible nor fixed. If you want to make the most of it, then figure out how to mould it to your needs and be willing to step out of your comfort zone when it does the same to you.
Overall, the process is much more stressful than it should be. There are all types of people everywhere - I don't think people should worry about fitting in socially, because everyone changes in college and is generally open minded, in my experience. There is certainly a value to visiting schools, and I would encourage anyone thinking of applying somewhere to visit first. Sometimes you just get a good feeling about a place. To me, selecting the right college is mostly about selecting the right type of college. Once you know you want a small liberal arts college, for instance, you aren't going to have a markedly different experience at Bowdoin, say, compared to Middlebury. You would have a different experience at a big research university or state school. So I think the type of college you choose is very important, not neccesarily the exact school itself. School size especially matters. In choosing a small school, you could find yourself limited socially or academically, although you will enjoy a much closer, tight-knit community. There are trade-offs no matter what, its important to put a good amount of thought into your decision, do all you can, and relax.
There are a million schools that look the same, and that's because they largely are. You cannot count on a radically different school to do everything for you. It is the student who makes the experience. So base choice on the basics - good food, good rooms, good people - and then focus on yourself to see what you want to learn and what you love to do. Because the best program in such-and-such a program only means something if you know exactly what you want to study, and no one actually does. So why not start with a good foundation, and branch out from there? Always remember that the world is full of good things and abundance is not spread butter thin, so what you look for, you will find. It is everywhere. If you seek good people and good experiences, they will find you, no matter where you are. And if you seek disappointment and stress, they will find you too. No matter where you end up remember that you are in control - be curious, be open, and remember learning doesn't just happen in classes.
Tip: Prioritize qualitative measures. Will professors inspire you? Will they support you through major decisions? I went with my gut and applied early decision to Middlebury. I think I chose well. It does not come first in all the rankings, but it has a qualitative edge. My education has been comprehensive and stimulating than many of my peers? educations elsewhere. Middlebury inspired in me, a love of learning that I will carry with me. Even while I was busy learning, my social and extracurricular pursuits provided a powerful counterpoint to my academic experience. I knew in my gut that Middlebury was a place I could be happy. That is why the qualitative measures should always have more weight than the quantitative measures in college application and attendance decisions. When it comes down to it, college should enrich and change people? and that?s not something you can add up on a calculator or verify in a book.
Picking a place that's going to challenge you is great, but don't overdo it. Using college solely as a place to "discover yourself" is probably NOT a good idea. It's important to find a place that will both allow you to cultivate your independence and give you a valuable classroom experience - i.e. one that will also be of use to you as an adult, not merely as a college student "finding yourself". View college as an investment in your future, not as a goal in and of itself. Of course, it helps if you enjoy the experience too, but don't expect to find that one absolutley perfect fit. There will be disappointements as well as unexpected joys, and just like in the rest of life, the most important thing to learn in all of it is simply how to roll with the punches. Don't stress out so much about it, but be sure to take the time and effort you need to choose wisely.
The top advice I can give on finding the right college is to look at the quality of the teachers and not worry so much about jobs, size, or other statistical information. Go visit the place and talk to some teachers. If they take the time to talk with you... if they seem engaging and fun and they seem to care about you and their students... keep that in mind when you choose your college.
When you get there, start with two main priorities: 1) networking and 2) exploring. You're out on your own, probably for the first time in your life, and you are in this incredible environment with an amazing opportunity to learn and experience new things. Get to know as many people as possible in your first semester - make friends, remember names - it will come back to you! Also, don't stress about your major! Don't stress about your plans or goals - choose your classes based on what interests you and how you feel about the teachers you meet. You'll have more fun that way and your classes will mean more to you - and that sense of meaning is really, really valuable.
The information sessions and tours at any college are not helpful. Find a friend or high school alumni at a prospective college and stay for the night - stop stressing and just enjoy yourself.
I think that the most important thing to keep in mind when selecting a college is that YOU determine your experience there. The main difference between colleges comes from the types of opportunities offered already, and the administrative mechanism that allows students to pursue their passions.
Once you are already in college, I would say the most important thing is to keep an open mind at all times. Most likely you will be attending an institution with students from all over the country or state, not just the town you grew up. These people will have different traditions and backgrounds than you, and that will probably lead you to assume many things about them. Its natural-- I find myself judging people sometimes-- but if you really want to get the most out of your college experience, you have to erase all preconceptions about your peers, and learn to ask questions. Once you can do this socially, it will follow academincally, and your mind will be doubly enriched.
Make sure that you choose the right college for you. Don't let your parents, your friends, or a significant other influence your decision. You're the one that has to be happy with the desicion and you won't be if you let others decide for you. Once you are on campus try as many new things as possible. College is the one time in your life when you aren't defined by pre-determined labels. You can become your own person. Let your actions reflect this. Also, there are many opportunities to meet and do things that you many never have again. It's the one place where you can establish connections with the president of a major corporation or listen to a world-renowned author speak. Learn as much as possible because you'll regret it later if you don't.
Go with your gut instinct- your gut knows what you want more than your logic. Narrow down colleges based on where you want to live, how many people you want to go to the college, the academics they have available, and the overall atmosphere of the college. Once you've applied to the colleges of your choice and know to which ones you were accepted, look deep within yourself and choose the college that feels right. Don't let anyone talk you out of going to the college you want to go to-it's your life. And once you get there, have fun! Take the classes you want to take and enjoy learning about them. Don't stress yourself out or take classes that you don't want to-college is your chance to learn about your passion. And while it is important to do well in school, don't work too hard. Make sure to have fun, and realize that college is not a stepping stone to the rest of your life. This is life, so live it up to its full potential!
Definitely visit the school, know before you start looking at schools what type of student you are and in what environment you work best. Always have reach and safety schools in mind. ALWAYS apply even if you think you have no chance of getting in, you just never know. Talk to the students and use your connections and networking skills, most likely you have a connection to almost all the colleges out there, if not sign up for the tour and get to know the tour guide, get as much insider information as possible. In the end, go with your gut feeling, do not apply based on your friends, or a legacy, apply for yourself, it is only you attending the school and your happiness will strongly be affected by this.
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