Things nobody tells you when choosing your dream college
It’s that time of the year again.
Colleges have sent out their responses, congratulations are in order, and tears have been shed (or in my case, MAJOR giggling with my friend in the middle of the night after getting rejected by an Ivy). All you need now is to choose where to go, which can be pretty daunting if all of your past major life decisions have involved cootie catchers. Then again, you can barely figure out breakfast let alone what to do with the rest of your life—it’s totally justified.
All that aside, picking the right college can be hard. It’s intimidating and really messy when you have absolutely no idea how to go about it. Pros and cons lists are a total bust when it comes to considering the important things like:
Believe it or not, size does matter. It’s tempting to skip through the part mentioning the teacher to student ratio, but college is a lot different from high school. In high school, it’s all the same—there aren’t any choices between lecture halls or classrooms. In college, you’re more in-charge than you might think. You don’t want to study in a huge lecture hall where you’d barely be recognized amid the masses, when what you really need is more attention by way of smaller study groups or vice-versa.
If you think you’re going to check out clubs once you get there, don’t. While it’s a given that any college will have the usual sports, recreational and performance clubs, it’s always a good idea to be in on the specifics. Also, academic clubs related to your major aren’t bad either! They’ll help you out in ways you’d never imagine—friends, internship opportunities, travel, you name it. That being said, a lot of the clubs you’re into might actually just sit around doing nothing. Clubs will become the majority of your social life (or your only social life, if you never get out of bed) in college, so, don’t compromise on them.
If you’re anything like me, insurance talk will go way past your head. Even so, it wouldn’t hurt to get to know the kind of care you can get in college: Walking in without a prior appointment, counseling services with a choice on confidentiality, disability services, support groups, language support and the likes. You never know when you might need them, so, it’s best to be prepared.
While it’s crucial that the dining halls serve things healthier than chicken nuggets—just kidding, we’re totally not complaining—“Greens” actually refers to the great outdoors. If you’re the outdoorsy type, this would be at the top of your list. If you’re not, you’re going to be spending a considerable amount of time going to and from classes, so, it’s better that you look at tall trees and bunnies instead of plain concrete as you walk by, right?
You can’t know how much easier or difficult college is gonna be because a) you’ve never been there b) your siblings wouldn’t bother to give you the deets c) your parents were practically never teenagers. Basically, it’s chaos. So, it’s up to you to make sure you can get extra attention with your courses if you need it—weekly meetings with your professors or academic advisors, access to an excellent library (preferably a 24/7 kind), and tutor support in your building. You’ll thank yourself for this later, trust me.
It doesn’t matter where you go to college. It really doesn’t. You can do great no matter where you go, whether it be an Ivy League, State, Community college or sometimes, no college at all. But, choosing a college with a decent reputation and high standing proves to be useful in the long run. Grades are essentially reduced to mere numbers if you’ve graduated from a good school. That way you won’t have to lie about knowing underwater basket-weaving in your resumé to make it sound more impressive.
It’s not the most conventional thing to do, but it’s something I’m glad I did. I crept through several college social media feeds like a maniac before making my final decision (it’s not stalking if it’s for a good cause). You’d be surprised to know how much you can learn about the student body by their Yik-Yaks—whether they’re witty, mean, sensitive or fun—and get a better feel of the place through their Instagram and Snapchat. Sure, it’s not an alternative to actually experiencing things firsthand, but it’s bound to give you a push in the right direction.
In other words: Don’t think about what’s right or wrong. Don’t think about what other people want you to do. Don’t think about sororities, parties, GPAs or any of the other thousand things that might make you nervous. It all comes down to you. If you can see yourself going there, you’ll know you made the right decision. And even if you don’t feel entirely satisfied with your decision, remember that all of this won’t matter in the end. You’re amazing either way. Good luck!
(Image via here.)