By Ana | March 22, 2013
I feel like I have a little bit of authority on this subject since I’m about to graduate. Okay, maybe not “authority”, but I definitely feel like I can give some good advice about this topic.It was something I struggled with immensely during my senior year of high school. I applied to tons of schools and was lucky enough to have many options, but I was still torn in several different directions. Once financial aid and scholarship offers came in, that helped narrow down the list (in no universe was I ever going to go $200,000 into debt for a Bachelor’s degree, so that cut out several schools).
Physically visiting different campuses helped a lot, but I’ve mentioned that before. And while visits may help you cross a school or two off the list, the truth is, you’re probably going to feel comfortable at more than one school. You’re probably going to be able to envision yourself on many a grassy lawn, singing Kumbaya or throwing a Frisbee around or whatever it is you imagine that college students do during their free time on a warm, sunny day. The point is, even visiting schools may not help you make your decision, and that’s okay.
What I do think helps is sitting down with yourself and a pen and paper and thinking about what you really want out of college, even if it’s outside the realm of academics. Maybe you want a super awesome club softball team, like my roommate from sophomore and junior year. Maybe you want to be able to do some kick-butt research. Maybe you want to be close to your family, or maybe you want to be as far away from them as possible. Maybe you want to live in this big city or that little town.
Even in high school, I always knew that the one thing I wanted more than anything else in college was to study abroad somewhere wonderful and learn about the rest of the world. Knowing that that was important to me, and learning about the study abroad opportunities at various schools made my decision so much easier, to the point where finally, making my decision was a no-brainer.
I had to ask the right questions, though, and so will you. I had to ask, “Do most of these study abroad programs count for academic credit? How many people go? Are there scholarships? How do I get one? What’s the acceptance rate to these programs?” etc, etc. But figuring out what to ask really isn’t so hard when you know what you fundamentally want out of your college experience.
No matter what school you go to, you’ll be stuffed into a dorm with many other freshmen just like you for your first year (unless you choose to commute), and you’ll become great friends with many of them, and you might even continue to be friends throughout your college career.
And no matter where you go, you’ll have classes you love, and ones you really, REALLY don’t.
Wherever you end up, you’ll find professors who are awesome and brilliant and make you want to be a better student, and you’ll find ones you don’t click with at all.
You’ll cheer, yell, scream, and get really into whatever sports your school happens to be good at, even if you don’t really like that sport, or even understand it, or care.
Wherever you find yourself in fall 2013, I promise these things will happen. All you have to do is pick a school that has whatever it is that you want, and commit to it, and that school will love you back, too.
This all came about when I was talking with one of my sisters over spring break about colleges. She’s a junior in high school, and I had done that annoying thing adults do and asked her where she wanted to go to college, what she wanted to major in, blah blah blah. (I hated when people did that to me in high school!)
She said that she’s looking at Ohio State, among many others, and when I asked her why (I assumed it was because she thought she HAD to say she was looking at OSU because I’m a student), she said it was because yes, Ohio State IS awesome and our programs are top-notch in a zillion different areas, but beyond that, it’s because I’ve had a great experience and done lots of awesome things and most importantly, done lots of awesome things that I wanted to do.
I think that’s why I’m happy I chose Ohio State, why I’m happy to be here, and why I’ll miss it so much when I leave. I made a decision that made possible that one huge thing I wanted out of college.
Recently it occurred to me that there might not even be such a thing as a right decision or a wrong decision when it comes to choosing a school. I mean, you’re going to school, after all, and that’s a good decision. Just pick the one that lets you do whatever it is you really want.