You’ve filled out the applications. You’ve toured the campuses. Half of your friends committed to schools months ago. The other half of you still don’t know where you’re going. To the high school senior who is deciding on what to do for the next four years, remember this.
1. Think far.
While you’ve probably already sent in applications, don’t be afraid to think beyond the list that you’ve already made. Your options are endless, so look past the ones in front of you. There are obvious options, but don’t forget about the ones that aren’t so obvious. Make sure you consider them because they will help you realize things you like about schools you’ve already considered, as well as grow your idea of what you’re looking for.
2. Don't forget to dream.
College is a big deal. This is where you’re setting up life for the next four years. This is the town you’ll live in and the people you’ll do life with and the classes you’ll take. See it as an opportunity, not a burden. Dream big. The school that you “won’t get into”, apply. The state that you would “never move to”, apply. Why not? There are few times when opportunity will come this easily.
3. Make lists.
Write it down. Whenever you have a thought about a pro or a con or an idea or something you want to look up, write it down. There is nothing worse than realizing you forgot something you thought was important. Make lists, and then make more lists, and then make some more. You already have a thousand things on your mind, if you don’t write it down it’s just going to get lost in between practice and math homework and family dinner.
4. Talk to your parents about it.
Your parents will want to talk about college at the seemingly most inconvenient times. Talk to them. Listen to them. Ask them questions. They love you and they want to help you make the best decision for yourself, as hard as that might be for them. Don’t forget about them.
5. Talk to alumni.
If you know someone who went to the school you just visited and fell in love with, talk to them. If you know someone who is in the profession you are thinking about pursuing, talk to them. If you don’t know someone, ask someone who will ask someone who will know someone. If you’re on the fence about a school, this could be the deciding factor. Who better to ask than the person who has already been there.
You have options. You have far and close and commuting and on campus and college and no college. Think them through. Talk them out. There are endless combinations. Don’t do something you don’t think will challenge you, but don’t think that your combination isn’t out there.
7. Take the leap.
If you’re dreaming big and thinking far, do it. If it takes you out of your comfort zone, do it. If you’re scared and challenged and deep down excited, do it. It will be such a hard decision to make, and not everyone will get it. But choose the one that excites you the most. Don’t choose the complacent; don’t choose comfort and safety. It will be the hardest thing you’ve done, but you will grow so insanely much. Make the choice that takes some courage and some bravery to do it. You’ll be alright.
8. Don't forget about your friends.
Even though it feels like everyone else is ten steps ahead of you or twenty steps behind, you’re all going through the same thing. You’re all swimming in homework and playing your last seasons and applying for scholarships and working part time and making the decision that completely alters your future. Don’t forget to spend time with the people who make you laugh. Don’t talk about all the things you have to do for a minute and just absorb their company. You don’t feel like it now, but you’re going to miss them like crazy in just a few short months.
9. Don't get overwhelmed.
Easier said than done, I know. But it will get it done. You’ll finish your homework and make it to the hockey game and finish your work shift and sign up for AP tests and find a prom dress. Don’t think about the long list, just the next step. Little by little it will all get done. It isn’t until you stress about it that it will stress you out.
10. Be honest.
Ultimately this decision is about you. It’s not about being close to friends or close to home or far from home or starting over. It is about whatever combination of those you need these next four years to be. They say “you’ll just know” what school you’re supposed to be at, and I think that’s true. God planned out just where you’ll be going to school and what dorm you’ll be living in and who your roommate will be and what color your sheets will be. Listen and talk and lean on the people in your life who want to love you through every bit of this transition. Soon enough it’ll be the end of your winter break and you’ll be wondering how you ever pictured yourself anywhere but right here.