It’s the second-semester of your senior year. You are just about to graduate high school and life couldn’t be better, right? You’ve probably already had a Senior Day where you’ve shown the freshmen who’s boss, and you’ve probably already started thinking about who to go to prom with. You are also probably secretly wishing senior year would never end, but here’s the thing, I promise you that college will be an unforgettable experience. It will be just as exciting, if not more exciting, than your high school years!
College is an opportunity for you to explore new areas of study and pursue interests that could become passions. It’s a place where you can be uniquely you! Choosing the right college can be a bit overwhelming, so below are five big-picture questions to ask yourself when making the big decision.
How far away from home do you want to be?
Do you want to take a spontaneous road trip home on the weekends, or are you okay planning out your visits in advance and paying for airfare? Are there any family traditions or customs that you want to continue being a part of while in college? Being close to home has its benefits (homemade food is definitely one of them), but so does living independently and discovering a new city! I recommend searching for what the average flight home costs or how many miles, and ultimately fuel, it would take to drive home. With this information, you can budget appropriately no matter how far (or close) you are from home.
What kind of academic and social environments do you want?
Do you want to attend a school where you can walk five minutes to any building or do you want to explore a bigger, more widespread campus? Do you want a small faculty to student ratio that will enable your professors to know you by name? Do you want to have opportunities to conduct research with faculty? Do you want to live in a rural, suburban, or urban setting? Do you want a school where most students stay on campus on the weekends? School location and the availability of resources within the school will impact all four years of your college experience. Think about the type of experience you want to have in the classroom (lecture or discussion-based), activities you want to participate in outside of the classroom, and what will help round out your college experience in between class, studying, and extracurriculars.
What are your must-haves when it comes to opportunities?
Colleges will typically offer students some of the same opportunities. However, the extent of each resource may vary by school. For example, colleges will typically have some sort of academic mentoring available to students. However, you might want to ask whether students are paired with faculty, staff, or graduate/professional students. You might also want to ask if you are paired through a formal process or if you are randomly assigned. Lastly, getting paired with a mentor that has ten students each semester versus two each semester will make a big impact on the availability to meet and advise you.
Some opportunities you may want to consider inquiring about include:
- Studying abroad
- Conducting research or writing a thesis
- Engaging in cultural clubs or Greek life
- Playing collegiate sports
- Receiving academic and peer mentoring
- Ability to take flexible electives
- Areas of study/double majoring
Don’t settle, if there are resources you need, such as academic support, or opportunities you want to take advantage of, such as double majoring in Creative Writing, make sure you ask about it!
How important is school spirit to you?
Do you want your source of school spirit to come from their sports rallies and games or would you rather it come from community involvement and school pride? Do you want to go to a school that values competition or collaboration? Who do you want to surround yourself with? Do you want to go somewhere that encourages activism and debate? Look up school organizations and make sure the school offers the ones that align with your personal interests. If you have a true passion that you’d like to continue in college, see if there’s a way you can pursue it.
What is your goal post-graduation?
Do you want a full-time job immediately after graduating or are you looking to pursue higher education instead? Do you want a liberal arts education, versed in multiple disciplines or do you want to enter a pre-professional school and become an expert in your field? What is the most popular major at the school? How many people go into a career in the field of your choice? I would recommend finding out what career outcomes are at each school or even what certain major requirements are.
I know these are all rhetorical questions, but that’s because they are meant for you to use during this time of introspection. There is no right or wrong choice when deciding where to attend college, only the decision that is right for you. Ultimately, your college experience is what you make of it. Wherever you go, be authentically you, continue learning, and you will be well prepared to make an impact in the world!
Sending you all my best,
Lupe Monterroso 13OX 15B
Assistant Dean of Admission