Choosing the Right School for You
Work hard, discover your dream school and then trust me, everything will fall into place.
By: Vicky Saperstein, Marist College
College is a time to experience new and exciting things. It’s the time you become more independent, living on your own and taking care of yourself. There’s no mom or dad telling you what to do. Hello freedom. Ultimately, it’s your time to discover yourself. The key in doing this is finding the right school for you. Work hard, discover your dream school and then trust me, everything will fall into place. How do I do this you might ask? Don’t worry I got your back. I will share with you my personal experiences in finding the right school for me, how I went about it and give you some tips. My hope is to give you guidance on finding your dream school.
First thing is first, research! I recommend researching sooner rather than later. The most important aspect in this search is to figure out what you want in a school. Along the way, remember to keep an open mind. Do you want a small college or a large university? Do you want to be close to home or across the country? Do you want to be up North or down South? What atmosphere do you want? Once you discover what you want in a school and what is important to you, it will be easier to narrow down your search. Make a list of schools that fit your interest, then you are all set for the visits!
(Remember; don’t limit your search on either the expense or grades. There are tons of opportunities for financial aid or scholarships and now schools look for more than just test scores and overall GPA’s.)
Visiting the schools on your list is extremely important. Start your college visits before senior year of high school starts. This way, you have enough time to visit them all. I know for me, visiting schools either made me love the school or completely knock it off my list. Even if you don’t have a solid list of schools, go on as many visits as you can. By going on visits, it is easy to discover what you really want in school. For example, maybe you want a large university and love the school’s webpage but then once you visit, you discover that it is too much for you. In another instance, you might discover that a large university is what you really want.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. In most cases, the tour guides are students who are willing to answer any questions thrown at them. The more questions you ask, the more you will understand life on campus and how it’s like to be a student at that school. My go to question was always “What is the best part of being a student on campus and what is the worst?” Other questions to ask students are: Why did you choose this college? What is it like to live here? What do you do in your free time? What do you do on the weekends? How are the sport teams? What do you love about this school? At this point, you are visiting the school because of the great academics and services provided to students so don’t hold back on questions concerning student life.
Love at First Sight
When I first stepped onto the Marist College campus, I knew that it was my school. As I was walking around the campus, I saw myself as a student there and knew immediately that it was the right school for me. I always compare my first visit to love at first sight, which is ironic because I visited on Valentine’s Day! This may sound completely crazy to you but you might experience this as well. You might walk around a campus and feel instantly connected to it. You might begin to imagine yourself as a student there and get excited every time you think about it. Keep in mind that finding the right college for you is an exciting time and should be fun!
Okay so you did your research on the schools, went on college visits and you now know what schools you want to attend…so now what? Get your college essay ready and checked by your favorite teacher and start applying! This is your last step so it is important to take it seriously and apply in a timely matter. There are different options for applying, such as early decision, early action, regular admission and some schools have a rolling admission. Early decision is when you apply early in your senior year and if you get in, you have to attend that particular school. Early action, which I did for all my schools, is when you apply early in your senior year and find out early but aren’t required to attend. Regular admission is when you apply on time and find out during a specific time period (usually listed on the school’s webpage). Rolling basis is when a school immediately either accepts or rejects when the application is sent. It is up to you what you want to do. It is also up to you if you want to use the common application, which is one application that gets sent to all schools or you individually apply to each school. For me, I used the common app for most of my applications but used a separate one for Marist just because it was my top choice.
Now it’s time to wait for the decisions…which is the most nerve-racking but exciting part of this all!
The Big Decision
The acceptance letters are in and now it’s time to decide! When I got my acceptance letter from Marist, I opened it with nerves but ended up dancing around the kitchen with my mom. I was so excited! Still stuck? Make a pro and con list, remember your college visits and remember how you felt on campus. This decision isn’t easy and can take time. That’s completely normal and don’t feel pressured to make a decision right away. Once you do make your decision, there is nothing more exciting than throwing on your new school colors and telling everyone where you’ll be going after graduation!
I loved the website Cappex.com. At this website, you can search thousands of colleges (with awesome, detailed profiles), read student reviews, create your personalized college list and get scholarship matches. I highly recommend setting up an account!
Also good resources are Princetonreview.com and Scholarships.com.