To all you high school seniors out there, now is the time when you need to start making some pretty big decisions. Deciding what college to go to feels like a monumental responsibility, and in a way, it is. But choosing a college can also be extremely exciting. Like everything, it’s a process, so here are some things I did that will hopefully make your decision-making a little bit easier.
1. Scream in Elation
You got into college!! Before all the freak outs happen about choosing one, first congratulate yourself. Let your family be happy for you, share the good news with your friends. YOU. DID. IT. Get yourself some ice cream, go blast a happy song in your room. Take a day to relax; let your mind and body know that your hard work paid off. Seriously, this is a big deal!
2. Look at the Financial Aid
Your financial aid package can be a good way to filter out some schools. Let’s be honest, college is expensive, and the cost of attendance is something a lot of students have to look at. Many schools offer great financial aid packages. While picking a college should be a decision you make for yourself, it would be good to talk to your family about the tuition, because that’s something they’ll definitely be helping you with.
LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION. Look at where you live, and look at where you’d be going. Personally, I’m from Los Angeles, and I knew that I wanted to go to school on a different coast, so I was mentally prepared for the fact that winter in New England would be an actual winter. If you’re thinking of moving to a state with a different climate than what you're used to, fantastic! Do not be afraid, you can do it! Do take into consideration the following: potential flights to and from school for breaks and holidays, buying winter clothes, etc. If there's one thing I learned last semester during our mild winter, it was that LA stores do not know how to make a winter coat.
4. Talk to Admitted Students
Let’s say you really like a school but you still need some convincing. A great way to get a feel for a campus is to immerse yourself in the student body as much as a high schooler can. If you’re able to, go to that school for an admitted students visit and talk to some current students. Look online for any student-written publications (these often help to tell you what students at a college care about, and around this time they’ll have a lot of featured articles about why students chose their school). Shoot an email or give a call to someone in admissions to talk more about the school. If you have any concerns, they’d be more than happy to direct you to someone who could help answer your questions. And if you have any trouble finding any of the other ways to connect to the school that I mentioned above, admissions is also a great place to ask for directions.
5. Find Clubs/Activities That You'd Like to Join
Academics are a big part of college life, but extracurriculars are too. Check out the list of clubs and organizations colleges have and see if there are any you’d want to get involved in. If you don’t know what you’d want to do yet, take a peek and see if there’s anything you’d potentially be interested in. And remember, if a school doesn't have a club that you want, you could always make one!
6. Pros and Cons
Okay, so you’ve narrowed it down to two or three schools. They’re all fantastic, and you’re really having a hard time picking just one. Now is the time for the most basic trick in the book: make a pros and cons list. I kid you not, a pros and cons list is what helped me narrow down my school choices all throughout senior year. For each school, write down what you like about it, then write down any concerns you have about it. Take note of which school you talk about the most. When people ask what schools your deciding between, which college comes to mind first? It might be strange to imagine, but your heart might know where you want to go before your mind does.
Whether you’re currently deciding between two schools or still trying to narrow it down to five, remember that the college you pick will be for you. Go to a school that makes you excited, pick a college whose name you’d be happy to yell off of rooftops! And most of all, commit to a school where you could see yourself grow.