How To Choose The Best School For You

The College Search, Simplified

Only one of the most important decisions of your life so far, no biggie

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The college search is likely one of the biggest projects you are going to undertake, being you have not experienced too much yet in life. During this huge process, you are expected to find the best university for you - the one you plan to live at and move to for years of your life, - and ultimately get a degree. You need to know what you want to do with your life; the track you want to go down and ultimately what you will do for a living. It is a huge decision! But, you need to start figuring it out during these next few years at school. So choosing the right school for you is definitely an important project.

First, think about your high school grades...

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Your grades are the most important part of the college search! It is primarially about the academics, after all. You may find the school of your dreams in your search, but your chance of being accepted is close to none, then why even waste your time? The perfect place to start is to do your research... type in your college GPA into generators that find schools that match, talk to a college counselor or your school guidance counselor, visit websites like Niche or College Board to do some more exploring. When you have found schools in your range based on GPA, test scores and others, add it to your list. Even if it starts off really long, thats okay! You want to start with a ton of options! Literally write down a list of schools around your range.

Next, start a running list.

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Create a three column chart on a piece of paper... literally! Title each column the following: safety, target, reach. In the "safety" column organize the easier of the schools on your list to get into... the ones that are nearly a shoe-in and almost guaranteed to accept you based on stats. In column labelled "target", put the schools directly in your range. If your GPA is a 3.5, the schools with an average accepted GPA around a 3.5 give or take a few tenths of a point belong here. You have the odds in your favor of getting in. And in the last column titled "reach", put a couple schools that are a little (or a little more than a little" out of your range. The dream schools and the "ya never know!'s" belong here, well, because ya never know!

Research, research, research!

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Do some online research to start dropping off some schools from your list. Checking out the websites of different universities many times, specifically the "campus life" tab, will really help you get a feel for the school. Reading all the pages they have to offer for potential students is important, as well. There are plenty of places to read up on the specifics like dining halls, residential facilities and a ton of stats.

Virtual Tours

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Virtual tours are great, and almost every college now has one on their website. They are real-life videos or series of photos that show you around campus. You can really get to know a campus by seeing photos online... this could save you a flight or even an afternoon of travelling if you realize right off the bat that you hate it.

Real-Life Tours

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Although virtual tours are amazing and really help you to get a good feel for a school, they do not replace the necessity of visiting in person. It could save you a trip to the school if you find out you hate it, but if you really like it, you definitely have to visit! You will get to meet people from the school, ask questions, and even go inside buildings and get a true feel for the campus that you may spend the next four years of your life living.

College Fairs

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Any resources you have available to you, you should utilize. At my old high school they offered college visits during class times. Colleges would come to my school and present in the career center... it would give you a chance to ask questions to reps, sign in your name, and get a different perspective on the school.

More research, research, research!

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After you have gone on multiple tours and done what you can the first round, start the process of narrowing your list by researching again. Looking at YouTube videos and vlogs, I found to be extremely helpful. It is a more casual student perspective of the university of interest. There are many "day in my life" videos that can give you an inside look at campus life. Looking at reviews from many websites, looking into their clubs and activities of interest is also super helpful. The positives, the negatives, the good, the bad, and the ugly!

Demographics

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Think about your ideal school. Is it far or close to home? Large, medium or small student enrollment? Do you like being in a city or on a traditional campus? What major are you interested in - you should find a university that has good programs to support it. Are you interested in joining a specific sport team or club? Do you want to be involved on a campus with Greek Life? One with religious values like a Jesuit school? A private or state university? A university that is big into sports - a big football school, or do you prefer it not to be? Research all opportunities and narrow down what exactly you are looking for to check off your list.

Slimming down your list - the final schools.

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After extensive research and tours, slim down your final list of schools. Drop the ones that do not meet most if not all of your criteria. Your list should be under fifteen schools, ideally under ten. For some people that is assumed, but for others it takes a lot of work. Make your finalized three column list and start working on your applications for each.

One last look...

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When acceptances start coming in, keep yourself patient. I think it is a bad idea to make a decision before you heard back from all schools. Some may surprise you, so you shouldn't make a decision too soon. After tuition and all other things weighed out, you can then come to a final two. Go to the admitted students days or tour it a second time with a friend or someone you know who attends the school and can give you some better outlook.

Make your decision!!

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After a second look at each school, choose which one you genuinely like the best! Academics and statistics are important for sure, but at the end of the day you will be living at your school for at least 4 years to come... so choose one you feel most at home!

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To The Soon-To-Be College Freshman Who Think They'll Keep Their High School Friends, Know This

You will maybe talk to 10 people back from your high school while your in college.

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I know what you are thinking "Of course I am going to still talk to all my high school friends once we graduate." "You just didn't keep up with your friends." "I am going to talk to them every day."

Of course, you may be the lucky ones that go on to the same college and university, but if you follow your best friend to college then have you ever thought to yourself. "Did I choose my school based on if my friend(s) would go to college together." Obviously, it could be coincidental that you end up in the same place, but my argument is more on the idea of having friends that go to the same college on your list of important things once you move away.

Now if you are still reading and still in denial with what I am saying then continue.

Since moving away from home I have broadened my horizons and met more people then I could ever have imagined. I have met people that if I have not kept an open mind to them I would not be friends with them now. You will most likely choose the same type of friends that you had in high school if you do not keep an open mind when finding friends in college.

You also do not want to be that person who refuses to make other friends besides their high school friends. I hate to break it to you, but your high school friends will find other friends beside you when they leave for college/university. This time in your life is supposed to be "a new chapter" if you do not branch out of your comfort zone then you will be stuck in a little bubble for the rest of your life.

Not only will your friends in your high school class be making friends, but you need to make friends that are in the same stage of life that you are also in. Still talking to high school aged friends will limit you from conversations due to distance, lack of relevance, and just not going through the same stuff as you.

Sounds daunting? I know.

I am not saying that you can not be friends still with your high school friends. From time to time I catch up with mine to see how the school is going for them, and how they are doing, but I am building and forming relationships with my friends at college because you have had to start up from ground zero, and will be forming a foundation until we graduate.

Even when you have broken it is nice to hang out with your high school friends and talk about the good old days. My point to you is to keep an open mind and to not get upset when high school friends have moved on and found their new friends from school just like you.

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You Know You're From Trumbull, CT When...

The best memories are made in this boring, little, Connecticut town.

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1. The majority of places you will consider to eat at are in Fairfield or Westport... Colony, Shake Shack, Country Cow, Playa Bowls, BarTaco

2. But if you find yourself too lazy to get on 95 for food, Panchero's is the go-to... never Chipotle. If it is past midnight, the choice always comes down to the McDonalds in Monroe, where you are almost guaranteed to see a group of people you know, or Merritt Canteen.

3. Once you got your license, your Friday night plans consisted of picking up friends, driving up and down Main Street, and, somehow, always finding yourself at the THS parking lot seeing who's car is there because there is nothing better to do.

4. In the Fall, you couldn't wait for Friday so that after school you and half of your grade could walk to Plasko's Farm for ice cream and apple cider donuts... and hope you could get them before the owners would yell at you to leave. (This one only applies to Hillcrest Middle School kids, AKA the inferior middle school in town).

5. You couldn't wait to be a senior so you could officially lead the BLACK HOLE at football games... if you were even willing to go in the cold.

6. You looked forward to the annual Senior Scav, the last week of summer before your senior year where a list of tasks is passed down by the recently graduated class... the official kickoff to senior year.

7. You pass by Country Club Rd. and get flashbacks from the worst Cross Country practices ever. Driving up Daniels Farm Rd. in the Fall and Spring, you are conditioned to yell "hi" out the window to your friends at practice.

8. You knew someone who worked at Gene's gas station... and found yourself spending more time there on the weekends than you would like to admit.

9. You are convinced Melon-heads are real after frequenting Velvet St. to see the abandoned insane asylum with your friends, IF you didn't want to drive all the way up to Fairfield Hills in Newtown.

10. You have had/have been to at least one middle school birthday party at the Trumbull Marriott.

11. You know that the 25mph speed limit on Whitney Ave. is way too slow... and can't help but hit a little air going down the huge hill at the top.

12. The guy at Towne likely knows your name.

13. You never find yourself turning right out of THS... that side of town is irrelevant for those who do not live there.

14. You know to avoid the Merrit Parkway from 4:00-7:00pm at all costs.

15. You know more than you would like to about people you aren't even friends with... in a town so small, things get around very quick.

16. Going shopping really means going to Target, or any store in the mall, for the millionth time that week.

17. The marching band was the best in the state and you would see them practicing, literally, every time you drove by THS.

19. Depending on the side of town you lived, you spent a lot of time at Five Pennies Park or Indian Ledge Park.

20. You would say you couldn't wait to leave, but when you got to college, you find yourself excited to come back to your hometown so you can reminisce on old traditions and make new memories.

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