How To Choose the Right College
By: Shannon DiCristina
Need help finding your ideal You-niversity? You’re not alone; selecting the perfect college can be frazzling and frightening to students everywhere. Most people have many unanswered questions and are full of doubts when it comes to this decision. Dauntingly enough, it can be one of the most important decisions of your life. One of the best ways to choose the right college is to learn from people most similar to you, and who better than the current seniors of Wayne Valley?
The first thing many under and upperclassmen worry about is when to start their college search. Joseph Grand recommends “starting towards the end sophomore year.” Around sophomore year, many people start figuring themselves out, and what they may possibly do in the future. It can give the student plenty of time to research and develop their plan for college. One of the worst mistakes you could make is rushing your decision; make sure you have enough time to get all the information you need to make the best choice.
Learning from your mistakes is one of the best ways to learn, but personally, it is preferable to learn from other people’s mistakes. Especially when it comes to college, it’s easier to learn from other’s regrets. One of Tracy Gorab’s biggest regret in regards to college searching was that she wished she “had visited other schools to make sure they weren’t for [her].” It is always worthwhile to check out all different types of schools, even if you think you’re sure you want a certain setting. Tracy Gorab also recounts, “it is important to keep an open mind.” Although this advice may appear to be simple, it is very important because, as Tracy also stated, “your opinions may change a lot from sophomore year to senior year.” So, make sure you check out a diverse spectrum of schools. It would also be wise to check out different types of campuses, even if it’s just to make sure it isn’t for you. Remember: just because you think it’s what you want doesn’t mean it is.
When looking at schools, it can be very challenging to tell if it’s right for you. That’s why Megan Faber advises all college searchers to, “pay attention to the types of students at each school and see if you can see yourself in their position in a couple of years or even become friends with them.”
Others, however, are able to tell if a school is right for them based off their athletics. Nick Malloy wrote, “Looking for a college that allowed me to join the track team was a priority, mainly because I love the sport (track) and it would help me make friends quickly. Also, it would help me stay physically fit and active while gaining more self confidence as my times become faster.” Although the athletic route isn’t for everyone, it plays a key factor in the process of selecting a college or university; it will alter what schools you look at and commit to. Ultimately, as Nick stated, your college should be able to “help [you] complete [your] future goals.”
Choosing what colleges to apply to is arguably the hardest part of the decision making process. Carrington Park shares, “It’s really important to be realistic: apply to a spectrum of colleges–some you’d love to go to, but likely won’t be accepted, some you’re likely to be accepted to, and one or two schools you’ll definitely get into and would go to if all else fails.” Don’t only apply to schools that you will most likely not get into, and don’t limit yourself when applying to colleges. Make sure you have a good balance between reach, target, and safety schools.
Once you have finally researched and picked your favorite colleges, Kelly DiCristina recommends to “apply to everything early. This way, you will find out your acceptance and scholarships sooner and you will have more time to make your decision.” And when your schools start to get back to you, Katelyn Giegold says to “wait until you have all your options before you make a decision.” You never know if a different school will accept you, or give you more money, so wait until you have all the cards on the table until you make your final decision.
It is always important, if you are able, to visit the campus in person. Ali Kaminski shares, “I wish I went on more college visits rather than relying on the internet.” Seeing the campus for yourself will help you acquire a true impression of the school. You will be able to see what the school is actually like; you will be able to figure out the types of people who attend the school, the size, and it’s ‘vibe’ or attitude. Feeling out the school for yourself is one of the best ways to tell if a school is a good fit for you.
When all the searching is done, and it comes time to make your final decision, Kennedy Papa advises everyone, “When searching for a college make sure you check everything in your wish list and don’t compromise unless there is something better to replace it. Have an open mind and don’t limit yourself. There are so many colleges and so many different things you can do!”