Finding the right college for you is something extremely personal. Don't pick your school based on where your friends are going or where your parents want you to go. If a school seems right for you, trust your instincts. Find out as much as you can about the school you want to go to before making a final decision. Find out what scholarships are available from the school you decide on, but don't think schools are the only ones who give money. Your church, your parents' employers, and many other organizations want to give money to college students. Take advantage of these sources - there is often much less competition.
Staying on campus the first semester or year would probably be the best way to get involved with campus organizations, sports and making friends. If your not a morning person do not take morning classes because it makes it too easy to skip class and then ending up having to drop because most teachers are strict on their 3 strikes and your out policy. When buying books, find out what classes you are having, then go to the school book store and find out what the ISBN numbers are on the books you need, then buy your books used ONLINE where you can save hundreds every semester. Its more trouble but I think well worth it.
My advice to future parents and/or students would be to choose the college that has the major you are intrested in. If you follow your friends to college, you will be gaurenteed a good social life, but you have to keep in mind why you are going to college. Hopefully it is to get a good degree, so pick your college wisely. As far as making the most of the experience, I would advise to get involved in many groups to meet new people and to be involved in the community. Also, as far as dorm life, make as many friends on your floor as possible. Those will be the ones you become closest with because you see them everyday.
I would tell my former high school self to work really hard and take high school seriously. I would tell her not to slack off and do her homework even if she doesn't want to. I would tell her to balance everything out starting now, for example: her work, social and school life. I would tell her to be motiveted about what she is doing and to have a goal in her life. It was once said by Mahatma Gandhi," Glory lies in the attempt to reach one's goal and not in reaching it." I would also tell her to never bring herself down no matter what obstacles come her way and always look towards a brighter future.
I would tell parents to definitely let their child make their own decision. Most parents only choose the college that THEY think would be good for their child, instead they need to let their child make their own decisions. I think if your a perspective student you should definitely take the time out to really look good and hard for a good college, you should do all the research you can and chose the best one for you. It is very important to visit the campus, get to know the school and what its all about. It is a big and very important step to make the right choice about choosing a college.
I would advise parents and students to work together to find the right college. It can be a very confusing process and I've seen a lot of people get discouraged to the point that they decided it wasn't worth it. If the kids and parents stick together, and find an advisor from the school that they are comfortable with, the process runs much more smoothly. I would advise starting the searching process early as well. There's a lot to learn and a lot of surprises along the way. You will want to have enough time to enjoy looking around at different schools. It's an exciting experience!
Do not pick a college based on your friends or boyfriend. Chances are you'll break up with him in college, and you'll find better friends than you ever imagined possible. And, if college is tough, talk to your professors. When choosing a college, look at the class size. If you don't learn well with 100s of students in your class, go to a smaller school. If you would like to do undergraduate research, pick a college that does not have a graduate program in your area of interest, because then you get to do all of the research instead of graduate students.
Let students pick themselves! It's wear they feel truly comfortable that will assist them in their success. I would emphasize how fun college is! It's the only time in our lives where we get to learn and accumlate knowledge about the areas in life in which we like or relate with! Learning about the world is fun! It makes us more well rounded adults and in turn builds our body of knowledge! I love college! I get to study what I want and learn as much as I want! no one can take your education away from you and it is the only way to truly succeed in life!
Choose a college that you think is the right size for you. If you don't like crowds, don't chose a big school with large class numbers. Get involved as much as you can. You won't have this time over again. Take every opportunity you can to do well in class, and go to class everday. When your teacher tells you to read, read. It's easier to stay ahead in class than to try and catch up. Every semester counts, so if you do badly your first semester because you didn't try it can severely lower your GPA and make it hard to raise before you graduate.
I suggest trying out as many options as you can before deciding on a college. I suggest taking tours of every college that is an option and talking to student orientation staffs and asking them any questions you might have about the college. I would also suggest researching the academic availabilities of the college and make sure they offer the majors that you are interested in. Also, just going for a walk without a guide and spending some time on the campus will really give you a feel for how it will be when you're actually a student there.