As college acceptances are coming out every day, the question of which college to pick becomes an ever-growing concern. This question can grow into a major pain in your side as friends and family are eager to know where you will be spending the next four years of your life.
First and foremost, take a step back and breathe. This is your decision and as daunting a task as it may seem, always keep in mind that you can take a gap year first or transfer to another college. No one will be disappointed in you for not making the “correct decision,” despite what you may think.
Identify & Research
In order to choose a college, you must identify what you are looking for. What type of programs are you interested in? What do you plan to major in? Are you interested in any of the available minors? These are all good questions to keep in mind while doing some final bits of research on a college.
Also, make sure to look into a college’s clubs and student activities to see what you may be interested in getting involved in. Perhaps the clubs have an Instagram page you can follow or direct message with questions. Many times a school may have some kind of social media for student activities and a calendar of different events that can help you envision what attending a particular college will be like.
Money, as annoying as it may seem, may be a factor in your college decision. Consider how much it would cost to attend and discuss possibilities with your family. Also, try calling the college to learn about your options, such as college work-study or paying in segments.
In addition to talking directly to a college about options, there are hundreds of potential scholarships that you can apply to which can help in paying for college. Do not be afraid to sit down and look up different potential scholarships or talk to friends about different scholarships they have found, even the smallest amount of money can help pay towards attending your dream college. However, it is imperative to ensure that the scholarships you choose to apply for are legitimate and you can feasibly do. While an online scholarship may be amazing, consider how long it will take to write and if you can feasibly do it without overwhelming yourself with work.
Teachers and college counselors, especially those who know you well, can be excellent sources of information on what colleges may be the best fit for you. They can give you wonderful feedback about how you may fit into a certain college, especially if you are on the fence. Additionally, try talking to friends and family who are in or recently graduated from college as they can give you insider information that you may not initially consider.
However, as stated prior, it is ultimately your decision, not theirs, so there is no pressure to follow their advice completely. It is merely feedback, so do not let it overwhelm you and do not be afraid to take a break from hearing people’s advice. They may mean well, but too many opinions can cause more harm than good, especially without a break to think it over yourself.
Sometimes all it takes is visiting a college, walking from classroom to classroom, and talking to students at the college to know if you want to go there. Consider how you feel walking around campus; perhaps, you can even take the chance to meet potential fellow students, teachers, or faculty members and see how you get along with them. After your visit, take a few minutes to consider how it went and answer the most important question: can you see yourself there?
Write Down Your Thoughts
Everyone has their own way of processing and thinking over decisions. For many people, writing down and having a physical list of your thoughts can be very beneficial in recognizing what may not have been obvious to you before. Additionally, many people may suggest writing a pro and con list about each college you are thinking about; however, it is important to recognize that this method may not work every time.
In summary, deciding where to enroll in college can seem like the hardest decision of your life, especially when everyone puts so much emphasis on it being the “best four years of your life.” In the end, keep in mind that this is no one else’s decision but yours; and although others can give you invaluable feedback, do not let them overwhelm you. No one knows yourself better than you, and no matter what decision you make, no one will be disappointed in you for doing what is best for you. Do not be afraid to give yourself a few days to take a step back from the confusion of college decisions and find time to breathe.