tips for choosing the best college

I Chose The Wrong College, So You Don't Have To

Let's just say there are a few things I didn't think about when choosing what college I wanted to go to...

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College is a huge change. That is absolutely no secret. You have to pack up everything you own and move to this scary and new place where you probably know absolutely no one. In college, you can't really call your parents to make you dinner or help you with your laundry and you can't text your best friend to ask her to hang out when you have nothing else to do. Everything is new and everything is really really scary.

That's why choosing a college can be so difficult, because everyone wants to choose a college that they would feel comfortable and happy making their second home. When I was choosing a college, I ended up waiting until three days before the deadline to make my final decision because I was so confused and indecisive. Assuming you've read this far, you're in the same boat. So, here are some tips that I think I should have considered when choosing my home for the next four years.

1. How many majors do you like?

If you are not sure what you want to major in, choosing a school that has a lot of different majors you are interested in is a great idea. If you limit yourself to a school that only has one or two majors you may like, you might end up boxing yourself into a major that you don't really love or enjoy learning about. By choosing a school with a bunch of different majors that you are intrigued by, you open yourself to explore an array of interests and subjects.

2. Does it align with your values?

This is an aspect of campus that I never really considered in my decision. Each campus has a pretty distinct culture. Some are "party schools," many are rigorous and focus heavily on academics, some have intense school spirit, and others are in the center of a bustling city. Each of these campuses has its own distinct values that come along with them. Try to choose a school that you think best aligns with your own interests and values. If you don't see yourself fitting in with party culture, then maybe stray away from a school that has a reputation for that. Although this shouldn't be the only factor in your decision, it is something to consider. You should go to a school that will help provide the experience of college that you've dreamed of.

3. What is the campus size?

Deciding what kind of campus you see yourself in is an important step in narrowing down options. Going to a smaller school will mean that you'll be in a similar situation as high school. You'll know a lot of the people you interact with on a daily basis and you'll build a small and tight-knit community. Going to a larger school means that you'll meet new and friendly faces every single day. You'll certainly have to search for your circle of friends for a little while, but when you do find them, navigating the landscape of your big college will be so much more fun.

4. How far from "home" are you?

This question first depends on what you define as home. For some people, home is their cousins or friends who live in the state. For others, home is quite literally the house they've slept in as a child. Thinking about what you consider home will help you reason how far away your college campus is from home. In my own case, I'm about four hours from my home. To me, this is a good distance because I could go home for the weekend if I really wanted to, but I'm also forced to assert my own independence. For others though, being close to home or close to people they can call home is important because it is nice to have that sense of support nearby. Think about how far you'll be from home, how you'll get home, the transportation costs, etc. All that will help you determine what the best campus is for you.

5. Go with your gut

When I was deciding what college to go to, my friends and I played the "hesitation game." It was a silly game, of course, but it helped me realize what my heart really wanted. The game went like this: I wrote down my options for college on separate sheets of scratch paper. Then, we crumpled each of the scrap pieces of paper up and put them in a hat. My friend picked one of the pieces of paper out of the hat, and then read aloud what college she had chosen. If I hesitated for even one moment when she read the name of the college out loud, we decided that it wasn't the college I really wanted to go to. Although this game probably shouldn't be the basis for your final decision, it really helped me figure out what I truly wanted.

Choosing a college can be really difficult. There are so many people who give their unwarranted opinion on your decision and who think they know what is best for you. At the end of the day though, YOU will be the one attending the college, and YOU will be the one making the most of your next four years there. Consider your options, but consider what you want first. After all, it is your name that will be on that wonderful sheet of paper when you finish your degree.

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Being Home From School, As Told By Rachel Green

You never know how good you have it on campus until it's 9pm and all the stores at home are closed.
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Oh, look, another Odyssey Article about the struggles of being a college student home for summer break. Bet you didn't see that one coming. Our lives aren't actually that difficult, but it is definitely weird being home. If you know a college student, chances are that despite the workload, the late nights and the sub-par dining commons food, they wish they were back on campus. That's how magical college life can be. And being home isn't bad, per se, it's just... not campus.

1. You miss your friends. Like crazy.

It's not that your family isn't great company, or your high school friends aren't really your friends anymore. They are, and you love them! It's just that you don't bond with anyone quite like you do with the people you're at the library with until four o'clock in the morning, working on an essay you realize is due in two days and not the next one.

2. You realize just how good you had it at the dining commons.

Who knew you could miss mystery meat and pre-packaged sandwiches? College students who realize that cooking is not their thing, and the easiest snacks are the sugary ones you buy for a dollar at the gas station.

3. You have to get a summer job, and it's not the cushy three-hour gig you had at school.

The first two weeks after you get home are so full of hope. You run around to twelve different stores, picking up applications, flashing that college-counselor certified resume. And it almost feels as though you've got it together. Until week three hits and you're still jobless and still not unpacked.

4. You finally get to see your college friends, and leaving them feels like ripping an arm off.

I mean you miss them for a reason. What, did I expect saying goodbye a second time would be easier? Of course not. And the amount of planning that had to go into getting together with them was sort of absurd.

5. In your unemployment, your parents give you some chores to do... and then they ask if you finished them.

Where do the days go? You have maybe a few babysitting jobs, minimal errands to run and still there doesn't seem to be enough time to vacuum and do the dishes. Maybe the twenty minutes before your mom gets home from work is enough time to give the illusion of cleanliness.

6. Your siblings are always in your room. Always.

You love your family. Really truly. But it's easier to love them if you don't spend every second sitting right next to them, picking up on all the annoying little habits they have. Pro tip; a good relationship with a sibling means never, ever eating popcorn near each other.

7. You've caught up on sleep, organized your room, done your chores and ran out of Netflix shows. What now.

There are very few things worse than knowing it's summer vacation, knowing you should be out having fun before another school year begins... and still being bored out of your mind.

8. In the end, though, you'll be okay

There's only so much summer to go around. Get done what you've been meaning to, talk to your friends frequently and get ready for another fun-filled school year in the coming fall. You'll need all the rest you can get.

Cover Image Credit: Warner Bros. TV

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5 Reasons Why Staying At College For The Summer Is The Ultimate Power Move

No school, no rules, summer vacation at the best place on Earth, also known as college.

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As summer begins, it brings in the joy of no more school but for most what summer really brings is the sad realization that we have to leave our favorite place and go back to our boring home town with none of our new best friends. Although some have decided to stay at college for the summer and they will soon realize why this will be the best choice that they will be making all summer.

1. NO PARENTS 

What's better than no school, warm weather, and most importantly no one to say, "Are you just going to sleep till 2:30 p.m. every day this summer?"

1. It's like the weekend, but every day

Do you know what weekends felt like during the school year when you didn't have anything to do? No? You never had any free weekends? Wow, I'm so sorry. Well, imagine a weekend that you didn't have to do anything. Now multiply that one weekend by seven and you get seven Saturday like days where you do not have a single care in the world.

3. No "Go cut the grass!"

For the sons, you know that annoying time every week when your dad is going to say, "Go cut the grass." There is nothing you can do to get out of it. Well, staying at school for the summer means no more nagging. You get to choose what you do now.

4. The bond of friendship

The friends you make when you stay at college for the summer are different than any other bond. Mostly because you all don't have a care in the world since it's summer in your favorite place. It's a right of passage to call someone your summer college best friends. These are best friends that words wouldn't do justice.

5. The townies

Everybody always wonders what happens to a college town when all the college kids go home. Well, the townies come back in full swing and take their town back. If you stay at your college, you get to experience what most can't even describe in words. To the one mid-40s guy trying to relive his glory days. To the old men hitting on the college girls at the local pub. To the weird towny creatures that make you shiver with fright as you drive past them. Have fun townies, you only have three months.

That dream of "I wish I could just stay here at college with all these people but have no responsibilities" is finally coming true.

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