Decisions have never been my strong suit; in fact, my friends and family have sometimes even referred to me as Emma Dilemma, so as you can imagine, the college decision process was quite a challenge for me. In honor of the early decision deadline being about a month away, I am dedicating this blog to my decision story, and tips I have for prospective students.
I first toured Tufts the summer before eighth grade with my older brother, Ross, who was looking for a D1 sports school, and therefore, did not like Tufts. Whether it was just to be contrary, or whether I actually really liked it in my own right, Tufts made the top of my list. But then, my dad encouraged Ross to apply to Tufts, and he ended up getting in and choosing it.
As the younger sibling, I was understandably annoyed. He stole my school! And while I am very close with my brother, I wanted to be independent from him and choose a different school, where I wouldn't be known as “Ross’ sister.” So, I started my quest for a school I liked better than Tufts.
In all honesty, I never felt like I found that “perfect school.” I ended up touring about 25 schools all over the Northeast, and eventually, I came to the conclusion that I could be happy at most schools. My mom made this extensive spreadsheet that was color-coded and everything. Each column featured some criteria, like size, location, political leaning, gender ratio, and at one point, we even had dining. Doing this was very helpful, because it helped me determine what was most important to me in a school and I was able to eliminate some schools that didn’t fit with what I wanted. Emma’s advice #1, do make yourself an extensive spreadsheet—it always helps.
What I realized in about October, was that I wanted the security of knowing I got into a good school without commiting, and so I decided to apply early action to a school that I won’t name. A week before the November 1st deadline, I interviewed with an alum from said school, who smack-talked other applicants, smirked that my brother went to Tufts, and bragged that her alma mater was a competitive, cutthroat environment where students prioritized opportunities over friends. I left that interview with a bad taste in my mouth, and as soon as I got home, I withdrew my application.
If that experience taught me anything, it was that the most important thing to me was finding a school where the students were friendly and valued a collaborative environment. I knew that Tufts was that place. I applied early decision to Tufts, and I am, to this day, very happy with that choice. Above, you can see a delighted Emma the day I got accepted.
This week, the best advice I can offer you is to really think about your priorities. Is your most important consideration the size of the school? The proximity to a city? The sports program? The social environment? Are you looking for a party school? Do you want to join a fraternity or sorority? Do you want to study abroad? How far away from home do you want to be? Do you want to know people from high school? Is good food important to you? (If so, go check out my blog about Dewick!)
Ask yourself these questions, and narrow down the schools that don’t fit with your priorities. Then, don’t worry about whether one school seems like the perfect fit or not. If five schools all fit your list of criteria, then chances are, you would be happy at any of them! Remember, the school doesn’t make you, you make the school!