To find your perfect school, acknowledge your ideals. Make a list of criteria to compile a rough list of ?fit? schools. Consider how you learn best: in semester block scheduling or a more experimental rotation? Knowing your major is not necessary, but may narrow down choices to schools with strengths in particular fields. Visit as many schools as possible, even types you aren?t initially interested in?you might be surprised. On visits, talk to everyone?not just the admissions staff! If shyness inhibits, people-watch and eavesdrop; appearance and reputation, along with campus atmosphere may be deciding factors. Back at home, narrow down your list and research carefully. Use rankings and official school websites skeptically; opt for firsthand sources. Seek out Facebook groups and blogging communities; skimming the journals of random students for school anecdotes is fun and informative. By politely messaging students on public forums, you?ll find many are excited to share their college experiences with ?prospies.? Lastly, finances are important. Realize it might be important to choose the school that wants you versus the school you want. No matter where you end up, seek out resources, make connections, know your options, and enjoy independence responsibly.
Most students of a certain calibre believe that they should apply to a college or a university because of that school's reputation amongst elite scholars. I, however, beg to differ. In my opinion, a student should first decide whether they would like to attend a large university or a small college, and continue their search from there. Next, they can decide whether they would enjoy living in or near a city or whether a school located in the country would appeal to them more. From these decisions as well as their high school GPA, a student can put together a portfolio of colleges/universities that fit both their preferences and the schools' requirements. Once a student enters their chosen college/university, I would encourage him/her to try as many different activities as they possibly can without letting their schoolwork suffer. Joining a sport or a club/organization is an excellent way meet people with shared interests. Finally, I strongly recommend getting to know at least three people that he/she would have never even talked to in high school. In these three ways, the student will be able to experience their new college setting fully. Good luck!
Research, research, research! I procrastinated looking into colleges, but it is really important to avoid doing that and get a head-start on available options. Investigate schools that might not sound entirely appealing before you rule them; being open-minded is how I essentially ended up at a women's college, rather than a co-ed school. Think about some characteristics that you are sure you desire: do you want to attend a small school or a large school? What area of the country do you want to be in for school? Private or public institution? These preliminary answers will really help direct your search. Try to do as many college tours, visits, and interviews as possible. Being on-campus for these events is a really good way to get the pulse for a school, meet some members of the student body, and maybe even sit-in on a class. Schools may feel very different from the way they appear on a college website, and experiencing the college culture at a school before you apply is valuable when selecting "top choices." Apply early-decision if possible, and complete the hefty applications bit-by-bit. Do the essays first!
Having transfered to my current school, I know what it is like to pick the Wrong college. Finding the right college is about looking at the big picture. Your college choice should not be based on one thing. The factors that you thought weren't as important, like social life because you figure every college has one and you will just join in, should be considered. You might not get along with the people at the college you choose or share any of their interests. In regards to the college experience, everyone says the same thing. Get involved! Well guess what? They're right. Getting involved is a great way to meet friends and find that social life because you already have something in common with those you are with. While the first thing you look at concerning colleges, and your first priority while you are there, should be academics, everything else is important, too. Not only job placement and rank and variety of classes and majors, but also environment, student body, and location. College is about finding the balance between all of these things and seeing where you fit in, while also learning some things along the way.
If it is economically feasible, take the time to go and visit the school you are interested in. Do your research, and know what clubs or organizations might interest you, and try to find out specific information about those clubs and organizations, and meet people who are in them. Ask specific questions about the academic areas that most interest you, and try to speak with a few students not affiliated with the admissions process about what they think of the school. Remember to choose an environment in which you will have the ability to be happy and to learn effectively, and go with your gut instinct when choosing your college. Once at college, try out all the things you want to try out, and proactively engage in your surrounding environment. Be aware that you can contribute and make change if you only put forth the effort. Do your best to expand your horizons, seek out alternate views, and educate yourself both in and out of class. Challenge everything, but be respectful and open to everything as well, then make your own informed choices. This is your time to come into your own, so take advantage of it!
Catie, Know that you will not be homesick, but think carefully about where you are from. Listen as much to those who have had everything as to those who, like you, have had to struggle mightily to arrive here. Those who struggled will tell stories that sustain your soul, and those who have not will draw the contours of the world that you are entering. Do not be bitter about the rural town you call home, or the high school that failed to prepare you for the challenges of college. You can and will make it, but it will take everything you have. The best news? This place believes deeply in you, and will expect more of you than you could EVER imagine. There is no other place where encouragement will make you examine yourself so deeply for strength, weakness, privilege and lack - but you will come out victorious, alive and thoroughly grateful. You will know the power of your own voice intimately, and from experience, because your life is changing forever. Embrace your growing pains. Finally, appreciate your family deeply, but let your boyfriend go. There's a beautiful girl who wants to ask you out anyway. Love, Me
To narrow down your options (of which there are thousands), use online survey searches. However, be warned that you will find you are unsure of the answer to some of the questions asked. So, take the survey multiple times, but vary your answers on questions with which you have trouble deciding upon one answer. Then compile all the results and begin to narrow down those options further through more in-depth research. Finally, when you have a reasonable number, visit the schools so you can truly get to know each environment. Make sure you leave each school with an impression of what it means to be a student and resident of that college. Then, choose the school where you feel you will thrive. This school must have an environment in which you feel at home, but also in which you will grow as a student and a person. Of course it is helpful if the school offers the major(s) and extracurriculars that interest you. However, you will be surprised to find your interests change as you discover new things about yourself and the world, so more than reputation, offerings, location, or social life, go with your heart.
In my opinion, research only goes so far. You can memorize your college's statistics, but ultimately, when you walk onto campus during that first week of September, a newfound reality will hit you (like the proverbial ton of bricks). An interesting shift in responsibility happens during this time. This enigmatic shift or transformation begins and persists during a college student's first year away. It's a transformation of self, a time to gague one's self, and, most importantly, in my opinion, a time to test one's limits and boundaries. If I could go back and do it all over again, I wouldn't so much change my scenery--I know that I'm getting a great education where I am--but I would try my best and put my whole self into succeeding at those aforementioned tests. Staying true to where I came from and recognizing this identitiy as I faced new challenges, experiences, and situations is where I failed to thrive. And this is a test that is so crucial and undeniably significat to the first-year college student. Stay true to yourself while making room for new people; it will make all the difference.
Most importantly, take a deep breath. Relax. Transitioning into college might be your most nerve-wracking adjustment to date, but know that you are not alone. Make the most of your remaining high school career. Keep your friends close and do not fall victim to ‘senioritis’; you will need a strong work ethic in order to be successful later on. Be sure to sign up for classes that are meaningful to you, and never be afraid to take a class just because it seems like too much work; if you are passionate about a subject, the learning experience will make it completely worthwhile. Academics aside, you will need to adjust to a new social environment. Orientation is an amazing opportunity to connect with other students. Everyone will be scrambling to make new friends in order to feel welcome; embrace this and be friendly! Invest in a doorstop and make friends in your hall! Keep your door as well as your mind open to the amazing opportunities in front of you. Join clubs, meet new people, and immerse yourself in this new environment. Eventually, it will become your home away from home. Have fun and good luck!
Too many students search for colleges by thinking about what will best prepare them for "the real world" - and in doing so, they forget that they are already a part of a world that is rich with possibilities. The most important thing to do when trying to find the right college is to ask yourself not where you would like to go to school, but how you would like to spend the next four years of your life. What type of work do you find interesting? What types of people do you want to be surrounded by? What activities or hobbies couldn't you live without. Choose a school where you can see yourself immersed in a community that shares your vision but which will challenge you to push yourself even further - academically, socially, or politically. Then, make the most of your college experience by actually taking advantage of the services and opportunities that drew you there, as well as ones you hadn't anticipated trying. Find the right balance between enjoying the things you know you love, and taking a risk. You can take classes in subjects you'd never heard of or simply make new friends!