9 Things I Wish I Knew As I Was Applying To Colleges
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9 Things I Wish I Knew As I Was Applying To Colleges

You don't have to go to Harvard to be successful

9 Things I Wish I Knew As I Was Applying To Colleges

There's no doubt about it, applying to college is a pretty stressful time for most everyone. I had lots of teachers and other high school grads, in general, giving me some great advice, but looking back there were a few helpful things I wish I had known when I was in the tedious days of gather rec letters and filling out the common app. Here are 9 things I wish I knew while I was applying for college. If you find yourself slaving away at college essays and building your resume, this is for you; I hope it helps.

1. First and most importantly, admittance to a particular college is not a measure of your intelligence or worth as a person.

When I got waitlisted at NYU, I felt academically inept. Looking back, this was not a realistic way to feel. There are SO many factors that go into your acceptance or declination to a particular institution. Not gaining admittance to a particular school does not mean that you aren't smart or that you aren't worthy. More and more these days, schools are looking to have a diverse student population, so things like ethnicity and geographic location of your hometown can play just as much of a factor as your grades.

2. "Fit" is drastically underrated.

Yes, things like location and programs are very important. But if you don't "fit" with the way a university operates, every aspect of school will be a struggle. You will feel like you're on a constant uphill climb because many things surrounding you feel as though they are in opposition to the way your mind operates. I'm not suggesting to not be flexible, but I am saying, don't compromise for an institution that you know will operate in such a way that you feel you have to conform to fit the typical "mode" of a "Fill in the Blank" University student

3. Campus Visits are important but they aren't everything.

If you're able to go check out a college, then by all means, do it! It's a great experience and an opportunity to physically familiarize yourself with the environment to see if you could see yourself thriving there. But if you can't get out to your prospective school, don't sweat it! Instead, focus on your correspondence with the admissions staff. Do they seem like a staff that belongs to a university that will promote growth among their students, or do they seem like a self-serving institution? Questions like these are good things to consider and don't require an expensive plane ticket in order to be answered. I never visited my college because plane tickets to New York City are expensive. But I love my school and feel like I landed in the right place.

4. A big name is not important.

Saying you're a Harvard grad is probably pretty cool, but if you can't say that (like most of the population), it's far from the end of the world. A big name sounds cool and looks nice on paper, but going to a school with challenging and reputable programs in your field of interest and a good reputation for producing high-quality scholars will prove to still be very beneficial when it comes time to apply for jobs and internships.


While researching your potential colleges, look into what kind of internships their current students have landed. Yes, your college and career experience will be what YOU yourself make it, but this can be a good indicator of what kinds of opportunities are available to students of this school as far as furthering their careers.

6. There are lots of hidden costs besides the upfront tuition price tag.

Okay so basically, colleges are kinda rude in the sense that they will take every last penny you have if they can somehow do it. There are MANY hidden costs that only reveal themselves after you've committed to the university and are getting ready to pay that first tuition installment. Research. Look into the fine print. Figure out their health insurance policy before they start charging you $2000 a semester for it. Idk...just a suggestion...

7. Being somewhere you will ENJOY is invaluable to your overall experience.

Yes, it arguably most important that your college of choice provides you with a high caliber education that equips you to go out and be a productive member of society, but it is also a valid point to consider that you will be in this place for at least the next four years. Four years is a long time to hate where you live, even if you're getting a good quality education. I'm not suggesting you sacrifice academic quality for a fun city vibe, but I am saying that there are definitely colleges that meet both of your standards in these categories. There are undoubtedly colleges out there that will give you a high-quality education in a place where you'll enjoy spending your next four years. (and here's my subtle plug for Pace if NYC is your kind of vibe.)

8. Go OUT OF YOUR WAY to establish an amicable relationship with your admittance counselor.

They will be your greatest advocate when your application is being reviewed. If you want to be on anyone's good side, it's theirs.

9. Ultimately, where you go does not define who you are or what your life will end up being.

Life is what you make it. Not everyone who went to Yale ended up being successful so don't put so much stress on WHERE you go. Wherever you go, as long as you are making the most of your experience and absorbing all of the knowledge you can, while operating with a strong work ethic, your college experience will be fulfilling.

Best of luck, soon to be high school grads! If at one point, you ever believed that a fairy came along and gave you money whenever you lost a tooth, then you can believe in yourself for long enough to get through this stressful process. I'm in your corner! :)

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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