To find the right college you really need to know how big of a school your looking for. You also want to experience as much of what each school you will apply to has to offer to you as a student and as a person. Tour the campus, ask a lot of questions; this is what needs to be done in order to make the best college choice. If you pick the best school for you then you are almost guarenteed a great college experience. The school you attend will have everything you are looking for.
If I were to go back in time and talk to myself as a high school teenager, I would tell myself to go into collge and be myself. The advice I would give myself, is to do your best to make new friends, these people are going to be your friends for life. Doing well in class is the most important part of school, it shapes the rest of your life. College will be the greatest years of your life, do everything you can to make the most out of it.
Colleges are like people, each one is different, and there's one out there for everyone. Some do well in big/small schools, others need an intermediate sized school. In the end, having a supporting family who is there, and will help in anyway needed is the best. Don't be afraid to go out there and find new friends, but don't let the socializations take too much of their free time though, otherwise it will affect their grades.
Never underestimate the power of a study group and adequate study time. I never really studied in high school, but once I got to college I studied so much, mostly with the same group of friends who were in most of my classes. I found that working in a group really works best because you can work off each others strengths and they can help to clarify certain things you weren't sure about.
The one piece of advise I would give myself would be to make acidemics as competitve as sports are to me. It took me a year and a half to figure out that mindset, and it really worked. I could only imagine how much more I could have learned during the last two and a half years if only I had been as sucesseful as in the early years of school as I was in the years leading to graduation.
Make sure that the student is looking for a smaller school. Visiting the school is important to know if it's the "right school for you". I would advice the students not to sign into any contracts before the options are laid out, ex. signing a housing contract for 3 years really hurt financially. People could save close to $8000 a year on housing and other expenses.
The advice i would give myself would be on an emotional level and well as an academic. On the emotional level, i would tell myself to bring more comforting items from home so i would not be as homesick. On the Academic level, i would tell myself to prepare for the amount of work. It is much more then highschool. It is also more demanding and time consuming.
Start looking earlier and go to more schools to find exactly what you want. Pick the aspects of the school (how many students, location, size of the school, classes, etc) that you want as well as the schools that fit your major. Take more classes that broaden your horizon to new possible majors and don't expect teachers to always be there to help you.
So far in my first year of college I have learned the basics in the field of dental hygiene and it has shown me that this carrer is perfect for me. I love the challeneges they set for us as students because it shows us that nothing is easy in life and that you have to work hard for what you want.
That no matter what go for the cheaper school because the education is really basically the same almost no where you go, it is just what you make of it, unless of course you can afford that top notch school or get enough financial aid that you will not be in the slump after.