This is the post I wish I had glanced over years ago.
But I’m here now writing out a list due to my lack of “research” as to what a high school student should consider when making the college decision. It’s important and I’m assuming you know that due to your presence reading this very blog.
I’m just going to go for it instead of writing a long prelude paragraph because I don’t usually read anything without a number in front of it when I’m the reader: instant gratification. Guilty as charged.
1. Make a List
When swamped by mail and advertisements for colleges, don’t fret. Make a simple pros and cons list of what you absolutely desire in your future education and what you can live without. For example:
Strongly desired aspects: Freshman allowed to have cars, apartment-dorms, study abroad program, a chapel on site, tuition and living costs, definite NEED of on-campus coffee shop, specific classes like astronomy 101 with Bill Nye, and ability to graduate in 3 years.
Not dire needs: Sororities, live on-campus (if close to home), AP transfer credit, single bedroom options, Football/Hockey, meal plan choice, short library hours, variety of majors, and package delivery/shipping center.
You get the idea. Your list could be positively articulate with study materials or great hang out spots. That list is customized with random fun ideas to get you started because only you know what’s top priority for the next “four” years.
Somehow US colleges find ways to make you pay for any fee possible–give or take it as you will. One of my previous roommates had a friend that didn’t pick up her mail for a couple weeks. The college ended up fining her for being negligent.
It’s hard to believe, but it’s worth asking about during a tour of the campus. You can always email the student services staff to ask about potential fees that appear frequently for college students. Ignorance may be bliss, but the early bird gets the worm.
3. Majors and Textbooks
If you know what you are going to pursue during your years at university, then make sure to check out the curriculum for that major at all your prospective colleges. You may have to save more than you originally intended because of textbook expenses.
When classes started, several engineering buddies of mine always needed a lot of money ($$$$); don’t think four dollar signs are a joke. Their debts increased every semester and it wasn’t caused by parties or gas money. My engineering friends didn’t have the time for social indulgences.
As a hospitality management major, my textbooks were relatively cheaper to rent and I made sure to thank my professors for being so considerate. So be aware of your budget and how you’ll swing your dream degree.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to socialize. Have an outlet, do something, mold your life into more than just the books. That could involve joining a club, sorority, or community group.
Something to consider when searching for the right fit is the environment and town supporting the college. Are there places to eat? Do you need a more outdoorsy city? Do you want public transportation downtown to see a movie?
Social life comes down to campus groups/clubs, location, population, tourism, and flat out just things to do. Which brings up my next point.
If it’s a city in the middle of nowhere, is that going to bother you while you are getting a great education or will it drive you mad? Is the city-life too big for you and you’d prefer a more laid-back, calm town while you’re studying? The people and culture will definitely affect your way of adjusting to your new life. So take in the possibilities of where you might like to reside the years to come.
6. In-state or Out
Both have their perks. Scholarships are definitely available for whatever path you choose, but it comes down to what you want and ties in with the location and climate points. Even if you never considered to look outside of your home state, I definitely recommend looking. It doesn’t hurt browse.
Such a big thing.
I know people that spent X amount of money at colleges to earn their degrees. After graduation, the lack of accreditation from their previous colleges was no match for any opposing competition when it came to job opportunities. If it’s international, regional, or national it doesn’t matter. Just double check where your college has its accreditation and if it will work for what you want to achieve ten years down the road.
Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times…
I went south twice. No three times. The people and cultures were great, but the humidity killed me. It was October and instead of treading through snow like I was used to in Minnesota I was drenched with sticky humidity. I couldn’t go to class without feeling like I needed a shower. Weather is important to think about it. So, think about it. Any drastic changes from your home may result in you completely changing your wardrobe with new clothes that you probably can’t afford since those textbooks in number three took your allowance.
8. Envision Yourself
If you can’t do this with any of those college pamphlets, then toss it from your prospective pile. You should be able to picture yourself going to a university because you want to go there and you know it will provide you with the education, social life, and growth that you need.
When in doubt, just try to picture yourself sitting down in the library or cozying up in the dorms while on the campus tour. It makes a world of difference.
9. Tour the Campus
As I was saying in number 8, it gives you the feeling of the campus and allows you to interact with enthusiastic students. No joke. Every tour I’ve experienced involves the guide’s enthusiasm for everything the campus has to offer. Their energy can be astounding. Be sure to ask questions. The guides are attending the university after all.
Apply no matter what people say or tell you. If you can’t decide between several colleges, make sure to just apply to them all. It will be an investment. By chance, if you apply and get into more than one college of your choice, you can barter a little bit with each college to potentially get a better scholarship package.
I love Elle Woods and I’m a fan of her intellectual behavior, but please don’t be her. Don’t choose a school just to follow the love of your life. Remember, if it’s meant to be, then you guys will be together and different colleges won’t change that.
Make the decision to attend a college because you want to go there for yourself and not for anyone else. You have to be your absolute best before you can help others, right? So that means you need to do this one on your own to better yourself, which benefits your significant other in a round-about way.
So there you have it, dearies.
My short list of considerations that aren’t like your typical college tips from friends, family, teachers, and the colleges themselves.
I wish you the best of luck, lovelies! May the odds ever be in your favor and don’t sweat it.
Things will work out how they are meant too.
Be bright and be you.