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Advice to My Senior Self: What Makes the “Perfect” University for You

Danielle is finishing up her first year and Emory and shares here some advice to her “senior in high school” self about how to decide WHERE to enroll for college! For all of the students out there admitted to many great schools, maybe her perspective can help offer some guidance as you make this important decision.

Sitting down to write this post, I can’t believe it has been a year since I decided to spend my next four years at Emory. These past two semesters have flown by and the prospect of beginning my sophomore year in the fall is probably the scariest thought I’ve had in a while.

Nonetheless, I think that I’ve grown more as a person this year than ever before, and I’d be lying if I said that Emory didn’t play a role in transforming me into the person I am today.

So, I guess it’s appropriate (and, honestly, a bit overdue) that I reflect on what I’ve experienced and jot down a couple things I wish I had known as a high school senior. Hopefully, sharing these thoughts will help ease a little bit of pre-college anxiety and make the decision process just a little bit smoother for you! I’m rooting for ya!

Dear Senior Self,

1. Think about where you fit in, not what looks good on paper.

At the end of the day, you’re probably pitting a bunch of equally impressive schools against each other. But, there’s way more to college than just rankings and class size. No one is going to turn you away from any grad school or job opportunity just because you went to a college ranked #9 instead of #8 on the list from U.S. News.

From my experience, every university has a different kind of people who it tends to attract, and thus, those people largely contribute to the vibes given off by that school.  Don’t ignore the vibes! They’ll clue you into the values of the students there and the kinds of people you’ll get to meet.  And most importantly, make sure you vibe with the vibes— no one wants to be the odd one out on campus.

2. Visit! It’s all about “the feeling.”

I’m a big proponent of the “say yes to the dress kind-of-feeling” that people always talk about in relation to big life decisions—choosing a college is no exception. The best way to corral this feeling, I think, is making a visit.

I’ll be frank, Emory was not even on my radar until my parents dragged me to Atlanta (against my will) and took me on a campus tour. Being on campus completely changed EVERYTHING for me, and I absolutely fell head over heels for the school that I said I would never ever attend. And all because of a feeling that told me Emory was “the one.”

3. Make sure that your advice comes from sources who really have your best interest at heart and, ultimately, make your OWN decision

Anyone that knows me could tell you that I like to talk (like pretty much all the time) and thinking out big decisions is no exception. I wanted to talk out my college thoughts with pretty much everyone I knew, but I quickly realized this was not the best idea.

It’s important to remember WHO is the one that is actually going to be attending this school (hint: it’s you, not your parents OR your guidance counselor), so make a decision that is true to your feelings and desires. Don’t let the haters that are all caught up in that silly college-ranking list bring you down or push you away from a school that seems to speak to you. The next four years are all yours, and I promise you’ll regret letting someone else take control in determining your future.

4. Remember that college is what YOU make of it.

No matter where you go, you’re going to make friends, you’re going to get an amazing education, and you’re going to get involved and find your place. When people say that college is what you make of it, they’re definitely not lying. I promised myself at the beginning of the year that I would jump in with two feet and hit the ground running— and I’m so glad that I did!

I can now say with confidence that Emory has changed me for the better and helped me discover who I am meant to be.  And, I wouldn’t be able to say any of that (let alone everything else I just wrote) without making the decision that I did last year.

Emory has become my home a little bit more every day and I could not be more excited to see what’s in store for me over the next 3 years. I’m really hoping that something I’ve said will stick with you, and maybe I’ll get to meet a couple readers next fall who feel like Emory is their home, too!

Best of luck with college decision-making, I’m sure you all will make the best choice for you!

DanielleBimston_PortraitDanielle Bimston 20C

Fort Lauderdale, Florida



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