The College Series: Choosing a School

Because it is a subject fresh on my mind, I thought it a worthy cause to start a series about college. I even have a nifty list of specific topics for the series on a “sticky” on the desktop of my computer.

 As you can tell, I thought a good place to start would be how to choose a college. Here’s something that may not have occurred to you yet, there is no perfect school. Now don’t get me wrong, there is a school that will make you feel like it was perfect for you. I feel that way about mine (gotta keep a positive outlook!) But you will always have complaints about your four year digs.

   1. That whole learning thing…

Obviously, you are there to get an education. Your parents are right, that is the most important part. Sure, I know people who went to “party schools” and seem to be doing alright but that was way too big of a risk to take for me.

  1. Getting in

I am going to do a whole post on this but the main point here is to be realistic. I always dreamed of going to Brown for some reason (pretty sure someone on The OC went there). But I wasn’t going to get into an Ivy League school, plain and simple. College apps are spendy, apply to as many schools as you desire but maybe don’t waste money on Harvard if you aren’t Harvard material.

  1. Location, Location, Location

Hands down, the most important thing to me when picking a school was getting away from my hometown and all that entails. I wanted to see something new so I was pretty sure I was going to leave the Midwest for school. I ended up 1,000 miles from home and it was the best decision I could have made for myself.

There are certainly some trade-offs to going out-of-state for school, like for instance everything is more expensive… Your tuition, your housing, getting home for the holidays. And don’t even get me started on emergencies. When everyone goes home on a four day weekend you’ll be stuck in the dorm because a $500 flight is a massive waste of money. BUT, you get that whole independence thing down a lot faster than most. Especially if you are like me and went to school in a state where you knew no one.

  1. Moola

Whether you are going the student loan route or are lucky enough to have parents who can help you, money matters. Yes, there is financial aid, scholarships, grants, etc… but for the record those things are hard to get and time consuming. I don’t know anyone who has help other than from their school’s and the feds. I suggest searching for school’s based on their values. I found mine on Forbes’ list for “Best Value Colleges.”

  1. Like, your friends?

I’ll expand on this later but yes, you should be considering what you want out of your social life as well! There’s a reason this is last… it’s kind of the least important when you are talking about the initial search. Do your research here, figure out what school’s talk about when bragging. Their sports teams, clubs, greek life, etc. Make a list and pray the school your parents like has those those things.

College really is the best (hopefully, only) 4 years of your life, treat it like that.

Choosing a college

Photo Cred: New York Times

Until next time,
Journey as Janelle

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