Everything I Wish I’d Known About Choosing a College
Blogger: Becca Patch
In less than two weeks, your mailbox will begin overflowing with piles of fat envelopes, the word CONGRATULATIONS scrawled in elegant letters on the front. It’s an incredibly exciting time, because it’s the product of all the work you’ve put in over the last four years, but it can also be very stressful. With that in mind, I wanted to take a break from talking about my experiences at Oxy, and instead share some advice that spans from opening the mailbox to choosing your college!
(I'm also including a lot of random photos, courtesy of my first week of college-- this first one is of my mother and I sitting in Rush Gym during the very first day of Orientation)
1. It’s a Roller-coaster. One day you’ll open the mailbox and you’ll have a CONGRATS envelop and you’ll be over the moon! The next day you might get a thin envelope from your dream school. Speaking of those thin envelopes…
2. It’s not personal. Just because you didn’t get into a school does NOT mean that you are unqualified, a poor student, or destined to work jobs you hate. Sometimes it might seem weird that you got into School A but not School B, but colleges actually are very good at this. There are schools I was sure I would get into and then didn’t, and schools I didn’t expect to get into but did. It didn’t make sense to me then, but as I look back, I realize that the schools that admitted me knew I would fit into their campus environment, their student community, and be able to contribute to academic or extracurricular activities on campus. You could be an exceptionally qualified student, but you won’t be happy at a college you don’t fit in at. And colleges are actually very good about recognizing that!
(Next first-week-of-college photo: attempting to build a bookshelf with my roommate!)
3. Colleges are like soulmates. By this I mean that many people believe there’s only one college you can be happy at, so there’s a lot of stress about choosing the Right One. Personally, I don’t believe there’s only one college you can be happy at. So when you look at the group of colleges you’ve been admitted to, try to consider the whole package! There may be many places you would be happy at, or maybe you know exactly what you want.
And now! Some things to consider when choosing the school for you!
1. Do you know what you want? A lot of students tell me that they know exactly what major or career path they’re going to pursue, but statistically, most people will change paths by the time they declare a major or graduate college. If you know you know, that’s awesome! But if you suspect that you may change paths or decide to explore majors, make sure you’re choosing a college that will give you the room and time to do that (and still graduate in four years).
2. How important is location? Location was very important to me. I grew up in a very small town and I didn’t even consider applying to colleges that weren’t located in/right next to a metropolitan area. My brother said he didn’t care where he went to school. My little sister, on the other hand, detests palm trees and refused to apply to Southern California schools. Decide how you feel about location—cities can offer more opportunities, but if you have a hankering for the great outdoors, don’t ignore it!
(Final first-week-of-college photo: my first/only time winning Monopoly!)
3. Who do you want to be? This was the absolute most important thing that I thought about when selecting my college. In high school, I was very quiet and very focused on academics. Neither of those things are bad, but I knew that I wanted to be someone different when I graduated college. I wanted to be challenged to think about the world in a different way. I wanted to be able to make small talk with strangers. I wanted to grow. So I knew, when I was making my final choice, that I needed a college that would support me and… challenge me. That’s what I needed in a college.
Finally, don’t let the stress get you down. This is an exciting time, so enjoy it! And if any of you have any questions about Oxy or choosing colleges or anything along that line, please feel free to email me! My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good luck to you on your college adventure!