I would tell parents and students who were looking for the right college that they should look at the schools size, and the location of the school. I would also tell parents and students they should look at the majors the school offers as well as the financial resources availiable to the students. When looking at schools one should look at the housing availiable and the campous security. Students should try and get involved with different groups and clubs avaliable at the school and find a balance between being social and doing school work.
I would tell myself to take my time picking a school. I should have applied to more than one state school--knowing that I wouldn't attend the private universities I applied to. I would tell myself that it isn't all it's cracked up to be. Being so far away from home isn't always fun. When I need my mom, she's 300 miles away. Most of all, I'd tell myself that I didn't need to know everything. Not everything has to always be planned out. In the end, the only thing that matters is your at a school that makes you happy and you feel comfortable at.
Take your time, before you know it, it will all be over. You will be looking back upon your high school life and wondering where it all went so fast. Soon you will be packing your bags and heading off to a whole new environment, a place where you will not have your parents their to lean on for support. Save up your allowance, for later you will be wishing that you had some of it to pay off your future tuition. Be smart, make decisions that will help your cause; and most of all, do not take it all for granted.
Don't expect to make friends right away, especially since you are different - younger, intellectually gifted, diagnosed with learning disabilities. It will be hard socially and easy academically, and upper-division courses won't change that much. Don't judge professors right away, some of the ones you end up liking best are the ones you start out hating most. Most of all, don't be afraid to speak out. No one knows what you're thinking unless you tell them.
Make sure they preview the college first that way they can get a feel for what kind of environment they will be in. Preview classes and watch teachers teach without making an appointment that way they don't knowingly put on a show for you. Take a look at the food... Have an open mind and prepare yourself to be exposed to new ideas, people, way of thinking, etc. Visit the counseling center and see what kind of help is offered and the health center.
I have learned a lot in and out of my classes. I was able to find out who I really was. Moving out on my own was such a valuable experience for me becuase it made me more independent. I have learned how to handle myself better in all situations, and I have learned how to be a sucessful student even without a parent pushing me to do well. I realized that I want to do well on my own, and that I can still succeed in whatever I want on my own.
For finding the best college I would say, go and see the different campuses, talk to teachers and current students. Make sure that you like the campus and it feels right. Get involved with different activities, try some new things. Join clubs even if your really not that interested in it, you might meet some really neat people, or have your world opened up to something that in the end you might actually like.
Finding the right school is about making sure it has the programs you are interested in. It should be in the right sized town for you. Having access to buy food and transportation is great. Being in a location that is stimulating and soothing and provides extra curricular activities. The professors should be helpful and engaging. The student body should be diverse and a good size.
Whatever field you are going into, make sure to enjoy your classwork and integrate your own ideas into the learning process. Why spend thousands of dollars to attend a prestigous college miles away for a degree in something you don't enjoy when right around the corner is a school that has just as many opportunities for a career you'll actually be able to joyfully contribute to.
Make sure to visit the campus, talk to the advisors/faculty and explore the campus life a little bit. There is no way to tell if you like a university by sitting at home looking at a computer screen. Get out there and explore a little bit! It's well worth it in the end because when you are happy, you tend to do better in your classes and be more satisfied with your experience.