It doesn't matter so much where you go as what you do when you get there.
Congratulations, you crazy high schoolers!! You've made it to the home stretch of high school! Now, you have just one semester left of high school, and let me tell you, this was my favorite semester of high school without a doubt.
It's the best semester; there's graduation, senior prom, senior all-night parties, and best of all, picking your college.
Yes, that's right! You've just finished applying to colleges and you're ready to start hearing back. You'll get into your dream school and a few others. Celebrate each acceptance letter! You did it!
But then, that means you have to pick the college you'll ultimately be going to. It's a big decision and it's important. This is when you'll start going to campus days and college tours and every school is going to try to sell their campus to you.
Every school will sound absolutely perfect, but just remember that the people you're talking to are trained specifically to sell, sell, sell.
No, that doesn't mean that they'll lie to you about their campus, but they will try to spin everything as much as they can to a positive light. Afterall, they want you to choose their university over all the others if they admitted you.
In that case, there are a few things to keep in mind while you're searching for the perfect home. Take it from someone who just went through that process and is more than happy with her decision.
There's a lot to think about, but the most important thing to do is talk to as many current students as you possibly can during the tour.
Talk to not only the tour guides but also to the other people touring the school. This will help you get a feel for what the campus's student body is like. Because let me tell you, the people you surround yourself with are one of the most important pieces of the puzzle.
When you talk to these people, ask them about their classes. Ask them to tell you about their favorite class or professor at the University. Ask them to tell you about something they genuinely enjoyed learning about. Listen to how they answer; do they make you excited to take classes at the university? Do they sound passionate about their experiences in classes, even if the workload was difficult?
But even more importantly than that, ask them about what they do outside of class. What kinds of student organizations are they part of, what kinds of projects do they work on?
When they respond, listen for their passion. Do the students here sound like they're just doing these things for their resumes or do they actually care about the work they're doing? When they talk about their activities, do you feel like you want to be a part of that too?
And then, ask them about what they do for fun. No one drinks and parties all seven nights a week (at least I hope to dear god they don't), so what do they do for fun?
This answer gives you a lot of insight into the campus culture and whether it's a good fit for you.
If they struggle to come up with what they do for fun, or it sounds like they don't spend a lot of time on destressing activities, then the culture of the campus might be more rigid and academically focused. If it's the opposite, then you know they do take time to relax.
In that case, listen to the kinds of things they do and if it matches with what you love to do or might want to try.
Take a look at how big the campus is and how much walking you're actually going to have to do. Don't take that for granted, and make sure you ask about bus transportation if you're on a big campus.
I can't tell you how many times I've misjudged the amount of walking I have to do. A good gauge is to ask your tour guides how many pairs of shoes they burn through in a year. I'm up to about one right now, which isn't so bad, but's its only been half the year and winter has just begun.
Speaking of winter, pay attention to the weather. And yes, it is much, much more severe when you're walking everywhere. Ask them about road plowing conditions if you're somewhere where it snows a lot. Ask about air conditioning and heating in the housing and even classrooms.
Honestly, it seems insignificant, but these little details matter a lot.
It's all about whether or not you're going to be comfortable in this new place because when you have a thousand other more important things to be worrying about, simple things like whether or not you'll be comfortable while sitting in class or are even going to be able to make it to class in the weather outside should not be adding to your stress.
And of course, make sure you look at existing credit transfers. You don't want to take all those college classes and AP exams only to find out they don't even really count for anything except general credit. And, find out what kind of recruitment services or alumni networks or professional development opportunities they have on campus.
You won't be thinking about these things as a newly-admitted freshman, but a few years down the road, you will. Cover for yourself now.
Basically, the most important things for you to figure out while you're researching your future home is what the school's culture is like and whether you fit into it and whether the resources they have align with what you will need in the coming years.
But don't forget, it doesn't matter so much where you go as what you do when you get there.
You'll be fine either way. Go out there and chase the world down my dudes.