Take a minute, open up your iPhones, and Google ‘The ideal college’. That’s the first step most prospective students take, and also the most misleading. The most common advice to be found is ‘to pick a college that’s an ideal fit for you’. Well, what if one doesn’t know what an ideal fit is? If he hasn’t yet embarked on that journey of self-discovery? That, my friends, is where the problems arise.
In an era of higher education, technical skills, and ingenuity, most high or junior schools are ill- equipped to cater to the needs of an individual on an inner level. Hence, the need for that initial Google search. We aren’t taught to discover ourselves, to take a moment from our strenuous routines, coffee in hand, and muse upon the direction in which we lead our lives. Frankly, the reason why ideal colleges are hard to find is not that we can’t find what we’re looking for; it’s that we never knew it to begin with.
Take the common application, for example. Even bright students struggle for weeks to write that perfect essay. Something that is substantial, that defines who they are, and what they aim for. Often times, truly expressing oneself becomes life’s hardest obstacle, one that we must overcome.
So, Google, the’ journey of self-discovery’, and nothing truly substantial pops up. All those ‘advising agencies’ can’t help you find what you’re looking for. It’s the most important process of growing up, and here’s how you can embark on that voyage.
First off, embrace your identity. The country, cities, and towns where we grow up subconsciously shape our vision. Science defines the phenomenon as ‘environmental influence’. It is the reason why global change and adherence is so difficult to come by. The culture of hospitality, the architecture of landmarks, the morals of our community, all influence who we are. Even the cuisines we eat, from the diversity of japan to the ‘spices of India’, all are a reflection of generations past, and generations to come.
Now, define what you want. At the point in their lives when prospective students apply, most are easily influenced by those around them. Be it from friends or parents, direct or indirect, intentional or unintentional, that influence stems from a desire of stability. All those millennia of living in caves has innately programmed the human mind to seek stability, and a natural course towards those we see as safe is then inevitable. Though times have changed, our instincts have not. That change then has to be forced; based on our experience and the product of all our maturity. Not forcing that change is the reason why midlife crises occur so regularly. The goal of a student should be to not only follow their hearts, but keep their minds in the loop as well to create an intelligent balance.
At this stage of the journey, the question of colleges arises. If the goal of all colleges is to provide higher education to meet the same challenges in a common environment, how can they be different? Why do we distinguish between colleges? Is it based on a one sided- perspective, rankings compiled by institutions, comforts available, the quality of education, or maybe even location? Research is key here. Colleges differ in how they teach to tackle the challenges present in that common environment. Some might focus solely on the subject while some may adopt a more interdisciplinary approach. It all truly comes down to how a student wants to tackle the obstacles that he might face, and go someplace that will amplify the traits of his character.
Whatever background you come from, college is the perfect platform to start anew, in lieu with that identity. Once you realize that, in the end, the consequences of the path you take are yours alone, you can then be mentally free to follow your dreams. Choosing college is a pivotal moment in anyone’s life, so take hold, remain steadfast and determined, take advice from everyone, but in the end, go where you want to; onwards to success!