A year ago, I was studying for my last round of AP exams, fighting senioritis, and eagerly waiting for a few more college decisions. My last month in high school wrapped up bittersweet when I committed to a university and turned my tassel from right to left.
As much as I cherish those memories, I'll never forget the stress that preceded. Deciding where to go to college was really tough for me. And, I know many students are in the same situation I was a year ago so I would like to give some words of advice from a girl who is living on the flip side of graduation.
First of all, it is important to really understand the value of being able to get an education.
Just having the choice to go to college is a very special opportunity that not everyone gets to have. So, I can assure you that no matter what decision you end up making it will not only be a good one but a special one. You have the choice to gain an education in any field, find your passions, and start constructing your life designed by no one but you. So do not stress out about making the 'right' decision because there is none.
Nevertheless, deciding which college to go to is a nuanced process, and it is difficult to pin down what you need to exactly consider. However, reasoning through about a million different factors can be a bit overwhelming. So I think in grossly simplified terms these are the following things you should keep in mind when considering where to commit: distance from home, tuition, program/s, reputation, and overall atmosphere. Make sure you are making an informed decision and research how you will fit in at this new school.
Consider whether the school has a good program for what you maybe will major in. And sometimes the reputation of the program can be beneficial career-wise. As for distance from home, I can assure you that everyone gets a little homesick in college. Tuition, of course, can be a big factor depending on aid, scholarships, and loan options.
What I found to be helpful last year was talking to students who currently went to those schools I was considering. It is best to find someone from your own high school, but most of the time students with public social media platforms like YouTube or Instagram, are more than willing to share their experience with you.
No one factor is more important than another.
Just because a college is expensive does not mean it is not worth the tuition. And just because a school is less prestigious does not mean it is not advantageous to attend. Everything about this choice will have its pros and cons; you just have to do your best to weigh them out.
More importantly, you need to weigh them out on your own.
You may be leaning towards a school because it is closer to home, but do not let your parents decide that for you. You may also be leaning towards a school because your friends see it as a highly reputed university, but this does not mean it is the best school for you. College is all about independently forging your life. So if you are able to make the choice yourself, take full responsibility for it.
No matter what you decide to do, your choice is going to be just the beginning.
What is more important than what college you end up going to is how you make the most of your experience. College is not a destination, it is just the railing on the track, and it is up to you to decide how you will use it.