To All The Seniors Making Their College Decision

To All the Seniors Making Their College Decision

Decision day is just around the corner, but this doesn't have to be a stressful time.

74
views

This time last year I was agonizing over what I was sure would be the hardest decision of my life: choosing which college to enroll in.

I had narrowed down my options to two colleges that I was absolutely in love with. I could picture myself on both campuses living out my ideal college experience. They were both great schools, and the idea of having to choose one and leave the other behind was tearing me up inside. I felt like I was alone in this feeling, but the truth is, there are thousands of high school seniors who feel the exact same way this time of year.

Society likes to romanticize the whole college commitment process, but it can be the most stressful time of your teenage life.

I remember seeing my friends post perfectly-posed pictures, beaming with happiness while decked out in their college apparel, their picturesque future campus serving as the backdrop to their college announcement. While I was happy for my friends, I was increasingly anxious as I felt the clock tick down to decision day. I had still yet to wrap my head around the fact that I was graduating high school, and leaving everything I had ever known behind. The idea of finding a new home that I believed would define the rest of my personal and professional life was stressful, to say the least. After all, I was 17 and had never had to make a decision that I felt would alter the course of my life.

Where you go to college does not define you.

I was lucky enough to get into schools that have great reputations, but the reality is that no matter where you go to college, you are going to be able to make the most out of your degree and be successful. My advice is to avoid unnecessary opinions about the colleges you are considering. This means staying off of all the forums and discussion boards where people trash colleges for no reason. These discussion boards are toxic, and I know that they negatively impacted my decision process. You need to make the decision for yourself because after all, you are the one who will be attending that college.

While you shouldn't hesitate to ask for advice from the people you love and trust, do not let their opinions be the deciding factor for you.

I was fortunate enough to know a few people who had chosen between the same two colleges that I had narrowed my decision down to; finding out why they chose either college was helpful to gather additional information, but I never let it heavily influence my feelings towards either school. This is the first step into adulthood for you, and it is important that you arrive at your decision in an intellectually independent manner so that you end up where you are supposed to be. That being said, there are multiple factors that helped me arrive at what I knew in my heart was the right decision.

Sadly, financial aid offers need to play an important role in your college decision.

You must weigh the cost of your attendance versus its benefits. With tuition on the rise, most prospective college students need some form of financial assistance in order to pay for their education. Tuition is sky-high at most private colleges, and no matter how much it hurts to think about it, the cost of your attendance must play a role in your decision. It might sound great to attend a prestigious institution with an impressive national reputation, but it might be better for you in the long run to attend a slightly lesser known institution that is more affordable. Calculating your expected student loan debt can be difficult mentally and emotionally, but you need to know what you are getting yourself into. Once you graduate, you will need to start paying off your loans so it is essential that you plan for that.

There are ways you can help ease the financial burden of college, but don't count on it.

Apply for as many scholarships as you can, and hope that it works out in your favor. If you have not already, appeal your financial aid offer. There is always a chance that your dream school could give you more money. If you are willing to take on more debt because you have fallen absolutely in love with a college, then that is a sacrifice that you must think long and hard about. I advise talking to your parents about the possible implications of incurring student loan debt are. In the end, you have to choose the college that is the right fit for you, and sometimes that means taking on more debt.

Focus on the feeling you had when you stepped onto the campus for the first time.

Think back to your first visit. What was your first impression of the college? I know the first time I visited my future college, I fell absolutely in love. I remember feeling heartbroken at the thought that I could possibly be rejected from there during the application process. I was determined to be admitted because I loved it so much. I told everyone who would listen about how great my visit was and how excited I was to apply and possibly visit again. If you don't really remember how you felt during that first visit, or you are reconsidering a school you previously looked over, I would recommend visiting again. Most importantly, attend accepted students day! I attended accepted students day at both schools I was seriously considering, and it was after visiting the 2nd one that I realized the first one was the right choice. I took one final visit before I officially committed to my college, that way I could be confident that I had made the right decision.

Focus on the academic program that you are interested in.

I know that when I was making my final college decision, I focused too heavily on the social scene and extracurriculars at my school. Don't forget that when you are deciding to go to college, you are deciding what training you want to receive for your future career. Academics are central to your college experience, so look for a program that you feel can set you up for success. If you're going in undecided, still take a look at the process involved in deciding your major, and check to see that there are a few that pique your interest.

Focus on the atmosphere of the campus.

Take time to imagine yourself on campus and explore how you would fit into the campus community. Yes, it may be a great school, but if you cannot see yourself thriving as a student there, it is not the place for you. College is a big transition, and it will be even harder if you are trying to change yourself in order to be accepted. FInd a place that welcomes you, a place where you can be planted and bloom. If it comes down to it, make a pros and cons list and weigh which factors are deal-breakers for you versus compromises that you can make. No school is perfect, but they may be perfect for you.

In the end, you know in your heart which school is right for you, and no matter what, you will end up in the place that you belong.

Popular Right Now

31 Tips That Helped Me During Freshman Year Of High School

It can seem like an impossible task to start high school, but with a bit of advice, it's a lot of fun.
34423
views

Starting freshman year of high school can seem like a tough situation to be in, but it was actually so easy to do. High school is a lot of fun if you know what to do, which includes the following pieces of advice.

1. Know where your classes are located without needing a schedule.

The big switch from middle to high school was easier for me than moving from elementary to middle school, and one of the biggest reasons why is because I knew that memorizing the locations of my classes beforehand was extremely important. One of the biggest things that bugged me about starting high school was wondering whether or not I would successfully be able to locate each of my classrooms in the five minute breaks given in between classes. Prepare for that properly by looking at a map of your school and then figuring out the best routes to each class from the previous one.

2. Don't buy too many school supplies.

Yes, having everything with you seems great and all, but it's such a hassle to dig through infinite pens and glue sticks to find your pair of scissors. Don't be the one kid who's held up last because he or she can't find his or her supplies at the bottom of the pencil pouch. Just ask your teachers what you should have for each class, and bring that! You won't have to worry about not having everything for the class because you already asked your teacher.

3. Try to get enough sleep.

It sounds like fun to be able to sleep so late at night without getting in trouble, but when you have to wake up early in the morning to get to school, it's not fun at all. You want to get a solid eight hours of sleep to stay healthy, and many nights, looking at the hours pass by on the clock is discouraging. I still remember telling myself many nights, "There goes my chance at sleeping early tonight." Okay, it sounds tough to sleep early most nights, but if you just try and get your work done as soon as possible, it's a possibility you can head to bed by 10!

4. One test grade does not determine your whole future.

Don't worry about it so much. The occasional bad grade during a stressful time of the year is perfectly normal. Maybe you don't do so well at the start of the school year as you're trying to get into the gear of being in high school. That's fine! As long as you know that you're putting in the effort and trying your best to do well in school, you will do well!

5. Manage your time wisely, especially with extracurricular activities.

Schoolwork increases throughout the year, so make sure that when you designate time for each part of your life, so you don't spend too much time with extracurricular activities that you're swamped with schoolwork later on. It's unwanted stress that can be easily prevented if you know how much is too much work for you.

6. Figure out a plan for your high school career.

By this, I mean devise a flexible outline of what class schedule you want to have each year of high school. If possible, you can even take classes over the summer! By having a small picture of what you want your future to look like while you're still in school, you have a much easier time deciding what classes you prioritize above others. And when you're done with the schedule, you get to see where you think you're headed up to senior year.

7. Don't do too many extracurricular activities just to look good for colleges.

It's not worth it! You'd be putting way too much stress on yourself just to look good, and striving so hard for a good image can make you do poorly in school. Don't do that to yourself, please. Participate enough to be noticed, but don't do so much where you think that you'd have to be a superhero to accomplish all of your work by your deadlines. You're just starting high school, and that amount of work needs to be cut down.

8. Don't be someone who runs in the hallways.

They're just as annoying as slow walkers. Everyone is just trying to get to their classes, and those who run are just holding everyone else behind. Because of how crowded it is in the hallways, people can get hurt, too. Don't be one of those people who gets someone hurt just because you feel like running. The school is not big enough to make you unbelievably late to your classes, so don't act like it.

9. Know what you believe in, and prioritize that above all else.

High school will make you question some of your smallest values, and whether or not you choose to stick to your beliefs is up to you. But in a place where you will be extremely independent, you have to stand up for yourself. Don't make decisions that don't accurately reflect who you are in terms of morals just because you want to appeal to other people. Be smart! You have your morals and priorities for a reason, so now is the time to enforce them on yourself.

10. Take classes over the summer.

This is obviously optional if you don't feel like it, but I highly recommend it. As you go through high school, you're going to have to start thinking about what career pathway you want to get into. And because there are so many course options for career pathways, taking core classes over the summer that you're not interested in frees up your schedule to do what you really want to do during the year, That way, you may have a lot of work, but it's for a class that you want to take.

11. Being independent is a tough task that sometimes isn't fun.

Teachers and other students are not going to help you all the time. You're getting older, so you're expected to act like it. The freedom of having control over your own life is fun and thrilling, but with that same freedom, you can't rely on others all the time. That especially affects you when you make poor decisions about your school career and do your assignments late or incorrectly. That's on you, so make sure that you know that being an independent person means that you take full responsibility for your actions.

12. Don't compare yourself to others.

This is something basic that you have to understand. There are the select people that always want to compare scores with you, and it gets annoying. There are two reasons why you shouldn't be one of these people.

1. They're annoying and ask you for your score even if it's a bit intrusive.

2. Why compare yourself to others when it doesn't determine anything about you?

You could be putting yourself down for no reason. Don't compare your score to others' just because you want to measure yourself against them. That doesn't say anything about how you can improve yourself.

13. Make sure you know someone in your classes to ask questions.

You'll definitely have at least one question in each of your classes throughout the year, so knowing at least one person in each class and being able to contact them prevents you from messing up on an assignment.

14. Not everyone is going to be nice to you, and that is perfectly okay.

You won't be friends with everyone, which is completely normal. Just stay in your lane and keep doing what you're doing in school. Focus on yourself and not about what others think about you.

15. Make sure your backpack isn't filled with unnecessary objects.

This is to make sure that your backpack isn't super heavy. Don't leave stray papers or other things sitting at the bottom of your bag because they build up and either make you bag heavy or make it tough to stick other books or notebooks in there. You can easily avoid this by just maintaining organizational habits that prevent you from throwing papers anywhere you want if they don't belong somewhere in your bag. Save yourself the trouble of cleaning your bag out by just staying organized.

16. When teachers give you advice for an assignment, take it.

They are the ones who made the assignment, and they've been high schoolers before. They know exactly what is best for you when it comes to finishing an assignment they created. Listen to them because convincing yourself that only you know what's best for you is not how you should use your newly-gained freedom from adults. You're still young and need some guidance, so take whatever you can from them while they can help.

17. Have a go-to music playlist for late-night study sessions.

Obviously this part is up to you, but having a playlist full of songs that you like will make studying a bit more fun for you. Yes, classical music is proven to help you while studying, but you need to at least be comfortable with the music that you're listening to; if you don't like classical music, you should have the freedom to listen to what you want. Studying will go by a lot faster if you do this, and when you're done, you'll feel like the study session was much easier than it usually is.

18. The night before a test will be stressful, but you will get through it.

It's a big unit test, and you feel like you don't know half of the material you're studying. You've reviewed this in class, so you're going to be fine. Just review the material to the best of your ability, and when you've answered all of your questions, get as much rest as possible. It's just one test, and you will pass it if you at least study for it.

19. Don't cram for an exam the night before.

Going off the last one, you won't be as stressed the night before if you've studied for the test for a few days. It always feels like a test covers a lot of content, and you'll probably do better on the test if you don't cram everything in your head just one night before taking the test. Get yourself in the habit of being prepared a few days before so the night before is a simple review of the content before you head to bed.

20. Stay organized, even if you're not the best at it.

Being organized was important in middle school because it was much different than elementary, but since high school is a bit tougher, you need to be more organized. Always have a planner or calendar of some sort with you that tells you due dates and deadlines for assignments. That planner will become your life saver. You school might provide you a planner, but you can always buy one for yourself. Another good way to stay organized is if you get a locker in case you have a lot of books.

21. There are lots of deadlines, and you can feel overwhelmed at times.

It's a part of being in high school, so if you feel like you can't handle the numerous deadlines, you can. You have teachers, peers and family members that are there to help you if you need anything. Being in high school will be stressful at times, but if you are a good student and stay on top of your work, the days leading up to a deadline will be stress-free. Stay organized and prepared, and you will be rewarded.

22. Balance schoolwork with the rest of your life.

You have friends and family that you want to spend time with, so make sure that when you take your classes and do your work that you put off some extra time to spend with the people you enjoy. These people will help you throughout your years, so make sure that you give enough time to both working and having fun. After so much stress, you need some time to relax.

23. You will make mistakes that could have been prevented.

There's no doubt that freshman year won't be perfect. If you make a mistake by forgetting to do your homework or being late to class because you chose not to run in the hallway, it's OK! Let it go, and learn from it. Maybe you were doing too much the night before, so you didn't do all of your homework. Maybe you were talking to a friend instead of getting to class, so you were late. Learn from these experiences if they happen because they are ways to teach you to grow up and become responsible. It's all part of the high school experience.

24. Don't change who you are to impress others, even if it benefits you somehow.

It's a universal concept that goes for any situation, but just don't change yourself at all. You might want to attract the attention of a few people who you want to be friends with, but do it by being yourself. Most people aren't going to be mean to you for no reason, so even saying "hi" to someone new is nothing to worry about. Just don't try to be a different person for approval.

25. Get to know who your counselor is.

This person will help you with many of the concerns you may have. You can always ask him or her for help because they are there to help you. If you can't get help from a teacher or parent about a problem, going to your counselor is a good idea because they are meant to help high schoolers. Getting to know them allows them to become familiar with you and know who you are, too.

26. Keep your old friends close, but make a lot of new friends.

High school is much bigger than middle school, so a lot more people will be joining from other schools. Getting to know a bunch of people and making friends makes high school interesting instead of sticking with the same friend group. Lots of people end high school in a much different friend group than the one that they start high school with. Be social.

27. Utilize your Orientation Day to the best of your ability.

Orientation Day should be happening at your school, and it's a day that takes place less than a week before school starts. That's when you get a physical copy of your schedule and get to meet your teachers. Make the most of the time that you're at school. Ask your teachers what you need, locate your classes, get a locker if you want one, and get a feel for how your school looks. This is the big day to prepare for your new freshman year. If you don't know if you can go to Orientation Day, I really recommend doing your best to go.

28. Don't be afraid to ask for help from anyone.

It can be embarrassing to ask for help when so much pressure is placed on you for being independent, but remember that you are still just a freshman. You're really young and still don't know how the whole school works, so asking for help is completely acceptable and normal. Ask teachers where a class is if you can't find it, and ask friends or peers for help if you don't understand something. You're growing up, so asking for help is okay!

29. Summer work cannot put off until the last minute. Get it done.

Trust me, you may have a good time forgetting about your summer assignment, but when it comes time to actually do the work, you won't be too happy having to spend the last few days of your vacation doing it. Get the work done as quickly as possible so you can actually enjoy the rest of your summer break. Also, if you do the work at the end of summer, it will probably looked rushed. If you do it at the beginning of summer, you can do it quickly but still know that you have a lot of time to finish it.

30. Don't let one bad day ruin your week. You're doing great.

And bad days will come, even if you're a generally happy person. Sometimes a bad grade or a small fight with a friend can ruin your day, but remember that you're still growing up and that this is all a part of the learning experience. Take this as a lesson for the future, and don't let that bad day ruin the rest of your week.

31. Don't slack off just because it's freshman year.

Please, save yourself the pain of fixing your GPA years after now because you chose to say that it's only freshman year as an excuse to not do your work. It sounds wrong to just think that! Work hard during freshman year because that's the easiest that high school will be! It only gets tougher after that, and freshman year is your transition year. Use it to be one step ahead and have high grades!

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Please Spare Me From The Three Months Of Summer Break When People Revert Back To High Schoolers

They look forward to swapping stories with their friends at the local diner, walking around their old high school with a weird sense of superiority, and reminiscing their pre-college lives.

4636
views

I know a surprising amount of people who actually couldn't wait to go home for the summer. They look forward to swapping stories with their friends at the local diner, walking around their old high school with a weird sense of superiority, and reminiscing their pre-college lives.

Me? Not so much. I don't mean to sound bitter. It's probably really comforting to return to a town where everyone knows your name, where your younger friends want you around to do their prom makeup, and where you can walk through Target without hiding in the deodorant aisle. But because I did this really annoying thing where my personality didn't really develop and my social anxiety didn't really loosen its grip on me until college, I have a very limited number of people to return to.

If you asked someone from my high school about Julia Bond, they would probably describe her as shy, studious, and uptight. I distinctly remember being afraid of people who JUULed (did you get high from it? was it illegal? could I secondhand smoke it and get lung cancer?) and crying over Algebra 1 in study hall (because nothing says fun and friendly like mascara steaks and furious scribbling in the back corner while everyone else throws paper airplanes and plays PubG Mobile).

I like to tell my college friends that if I met High School Julia, I would beat her up. I would like to think I could, even though I go to the gym now a third of the time I did then. It's not that it was High School Julia's fault that she closed herself off to everyone. She had a crippling fear of getting a B and an even worse fear of other people. But because she was so introverted and scared, College Julia has nothing to do but re-watch "The Office" for the 23rd time when she comes back.

Part of me is jealous of the people who came into their own before college. I see pictures of the same big friend groups I envied from a distance in high school, all their smiling faces at each other's college football games and pool parties and beach trips, and it makes me sad that I missed out on so many friendships because I was too scared to put myself out there. That part of me really, really wishes I had done things differently.

But a bigger, more confident part of me is really glad I had that experience. Foremost, everything I've gone through has shaped me. I mean, I hid in the freaking bathroom during lunch for the first two weeks of my freshman year of high school. I never got up to sharpen my pencil because I was scared people would talk about me. I couldn't even eat in front of people because I was so overwhelmingly self-conscious. I remember getting so sick at cross country practice because I ran four or five miles on an empty stomach.

Now, I look back and cringe at the ridiculousness because I've grown so much since then. Sure, I still have my quirks and I'm sure a year from now I'll write an article about what a weirdo Freshman Julia was. But I can tell who had the same experience as me. I can tell who was lonely in high school because they talk to the kids on my floor that study by themselves. I can tell who was afraid of speaking up because they listen so well. I can tell who was without a friend group because they stand by me when others don't. I can tell who hated high school, because it's obvious that they've never been as happy as they are now.

My dislike for high school, while inconvenient for this summer, might be one of the best things to happen to me. I learned how to overcome my fears, how to be independent, and how to make myself happy. I never belonged in high school, and that's why I will never take for granted where I belong here at Rutgers.

So maybe I don't have any prom pictures with a bunch of colorful dresses in a row, and maybe I didn't go to as many football games as I should have. Maybe I would've liked pep rallies, and maybe I missed out on senior week at the beach. But if I had experienced high school differently, I wouldn't be who I am today.

I wouldn't pinch myself daily because I still can't believe how lucky I am to have the friends that I do.

I wouldn't smile so hard every time I come back from class and hear my floormates calling me from the lounge.

I wouldn't well up when my roommate leaves Famous Amos cookies on my desk before a midterm, or know how to help the girl having a panic attack next to me before a final, or hear my mom tell my dad she's never seen me this happy before.

If I had loved high school, I wouldn't realize how amazing I have it in college. So amazing, in fact, that I never want to go home.

Related Content

Facebook Comments