Your High School Years
Real talk: the best preparation for your college search is to do your best academic work throughout high school and take advantage of activities that are meaningful to you. This starts basically Day 1 of freshman year.
However! If youre a junior or a senior, dont worry if your high school résumé isn’t perfect. And if youre a freshman or sophomore, dont go thinking the whole point of high school is getting into college. Your high school years are an important part of your intellectual and personal development, and spending too much time focused on college minimizes how much you get out of them.
Regardless of what year you arefreshman, sophomore, junior, or even senioryou can make the most of high school by doing the following:
Besides doing your best throughout high school, your college search will primarily unfold over your junior and senior years.
You Value Outside The Uni Experiences More
Whats more important to you? Everything you have in that tiny journal + the emails your professor sends, or the lesson you learn through experience and outside the university? We all have preferences, people. And believe it or not, some people are brave enough to allow themselves to learn from experience. They dont really have problems with the education system or going to college. They just cant wait to go out there and experience the world. They cant wait to run around naked and letting the world know theyre coming. These outside the university experiences and lessons are just as important as the lessons college teach us, if not more important. So if you feel like you can learn outside more than when youre in classrooms, consider that as a sign college isnt for you. Maybe not now. Maybe you need to take a year or two off. Or maybe, theres no way youre going back to school. No big deal.
If Youre Still Unsure
If youve done your research and visited schools but you still cant decide what is right for you, a good option is to choose a large school that has smaller branch campuses. This way, you can start out at whichever type of campus you think you would prefer, and easily transfer to a larger or smaller campus if you end up being unhappy where you are. Attending a smaller branch campus of a big school can also give you the best of both worlds. You’ll get many of the perks of a big school, such as a large alumni network and name recognition, but you’ll get to do it all from a smaller campus.
Another option is to start out at one type of school and only take your general education courses that will transfer to other schools. This could also be a way to save some money if you do a year or two at a cheaper school for gen ed classes and then transfer to your dream school for the rest of your education.
Once you get started at a school or in a major, it can feel like thats where youre stuck and theres no turning back. If you start out at one school and find out that youre miserable and you made the wrong decision, youre not stuck there for four years. Even if it means it takes you a little bit longer to finish school, an extra year or two is worth it if it makes you happy and means youre better able to figure out the rest of your life.
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How Does The College Quiz Find Your Perfect Match
The College Match Quiz helps you narrow college choices through an algorithm. It is a model that research scientists created to predict your perfect schools. It could help you figure which colleges you should apply to. You will answer questions related to three main areas: major, location and fit.
MAJORThese questions figure out which schools in the United States offer your intended major and area of interest. It may find schools as far apart as New York and Los Angeles.
LOCATIONThis part asks which regions youd consider. If you prefer to stay local, it asks what you feel an acceptable distance from home is.
FITMaking sure the school fits your needs and wants.
Can You See Yourself Going To These Colleges
Last but not least, do you think you would enjoy attending that college? Does it have sports you like to watch? Are there enough activities on campus? Do you like the town it is in or nearby? These are all small deciding factors that can help you make a positive or negative decision about each school.
Before you decide what college you want to attend, I suggest that you go out and visit each of them. Take your parents. They know you better than you think and will be able to give you good advice. Also, parents ask a lot of the right kinds of questions. Visiting these colleges will help you get a better feel for each of them and help you to really narrow down which one you prefer.
I hope this list helps you make your college decisions!
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Athletics And Other Extracurriculars
A lot of your time in college will be spent in activities outside the classroomas it should be!
College extracurriculars span virtually every interest you can imagine, from academic clubs to cultural groups to theater troupes to intramural sports. Campus clubs can also help you figure out what major is right for you or if youre on the right career track. And they can help you develop all kinds of useful skills, from teamwork to creative problem solving .
If youre serious about sports, athletics can also add a whole new dimension to your college search too. Student-athletes should start by realistically assessing their abilities and considering which schools are most likely to give them a team jersey. Talk to the coaches at your high school and at the colleges youre interested in and ask them to evaluate your chances of being formally recruited for your sport.
Questions to ask
- Does the college offer what Im looking for when Im not in class?
- What kinds of extracurricular opportunities exist on campus in art, music, theater, community service, athletics, etc.?
- How many students participate in extracurriculars?
- Are there clubs or pre-professional associations related to my major or intended career?
- Can students start their own clubs? How easy is it to do?
- What is the athletic recruitment process like?
- What athletic conference and division is the school?
Where To Find And Research Colleges
After going through the college search criteria above, you can start looking for the best schools for you. Yup, it’s finally time to fire up those college search tools! And there are tons of other resources you should use to find out more about the schools on your list.
Try to be open-minded as you research colleges. Be cautious about adding schools just because they are considered prestigious. Conversely, be open to colleges you may not be familiar with. You never know what youll find until you really dive into your college search.
Keep all of your college research together, and add your criteria and key data points for each college to your . You will also start to accumulate notes from campus visits, talks with counselors and admission reps, brainstorming activities, etc.
Finally, remember: finding colleges that meet your search criteria is just the tip of the iceberg. Just because a school has your favorite major doesnt mean its necessarily the right college fit for you. You should get to know your potential collegesand if it’s truly the right choice for you.
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Thinking Of A Traditional School Setting Makes You Question Things
Have you ever experienced questioning why you spent so many years in school? Assuming you are in college right now, have you ever asked yourself what the hell youre doing? If so, the idea of a traditional school setting is playing with your brain, and it is probably telling you to find a different setting for yourself. Because the more we question why we spent so many years in school, the more we lose the point of going to school. There are tons of courses out there that you can take for only a few months. There are online courses that you can take at your own pace. This world is giving us more and more ways to learn outside of the traditional school setting, and maybe one of those ways is calling you. Clearly, it pays a lot to listen to our guts and the gremlins in our brain.
Attend One Or Two College Fairs
College fairs are often high school students’ first taste of the college admission experience. Theyre big, loud, exciting, and overwhelmingbut theyre a great way to dive into the college search process. If there is a National College Fair in your area, go to it, because there will be lots of schools there. Talk to as many college representatives as possible and ask informed questions. Stop at the schools youve never heard of before. Gather as much literature as your arms can carry, and have fun shopping for a college.
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Tips For Making A Decision Youll Feel Confident About
As higher education advisors continue encouraging high school students to apply to between six and 10 colleges if they want the best chance of being accepted somewhere, it should come as no surprise that many learners receive multiple offer letters. According to a 2017 survey of 17,000 high school students, about one-third of students received offer letters to five or more schools, while 6 percent received offers from 10 institutions. Sifting through options to find the best academic and personal fit can feel overwhelming, but this guide exists to help walk students through the process, provide expert advice and answer common questions.
The Desire To Explore And Be Lost Is So Strong
Dont we all want to explore? Dont we all want to try new things? And most certainly, dont we all want to do something so big well be remembered for it? You probably answered yes. However, most young individuals are trapped in the idea that they can only achieve such wants if they go to college and get a degree. Sure, a college degree greatly helps in more ways than one. But that doesnt mean we need to rely on it. That doesnt mean we need to bury ourselves in debt only to get this degree thing society told us to. If you feel the urge to explore and be lost and be found, if you feel like its the one and only right thing to do now, and youve been feeling that for years, its probably a sign. Its probably the universe telling you to go take that leap and dont listen to what others say.
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How Far From Home Is Each College
This is a big factor for most people. If you are a family oriented person, then you may want to consider a college that is within driving distance of home. Even if you arent very family oriented, homesickness can and will happen. Sometimes its just nice to be able to go home and get a break from everything going on at school. Also, getting to have a home cooked meal every once in a while is pretty great too. Something else to think about when deciding how far from home to go is safety. If something happens such as your car breaking down, having your parents somewhat nearby can be comforting. However, if you are someone who wants to experience new things, maybe going to a college out of state is the right choice for you! In the end, its your decision. Write down the distance from home that each college is, then figure out what you would prefer and write it in your column.
What College Is Right For Me
Start your search by deciding whats important to you in a college. Once you have this list, youll be able to accurately assess whether or not specific colleges would be a good fit for you. Dont be tempted to start by making a list of universities and try to alter your list of priorities to match the school, no matter how prestigious it is or how many of your friends are applying. Maintain the mindset of auditioning the college if it meets your requirements, you can proceed. If not, it hasnt made the cut.
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How Big Are These Colleges
Now that youve printed this and written which colleges you have in mind, look on each of their websites and see about how many students each college has. Write this down under the name of the school it goes with. Now, what do you want? Is a big school something youve always wanted? Or are you more comfortable in a small setting? What was your high school like? If it was big, did you like it? If it was small, did you like it? Think about it and write this information under the column What I Want.
Make A List Of Your College Options
Although you may not know exactly which college you want to attend, most people at least have a few colleges in mind. So, before you really start narrowing those down, its best to write the names of the colleges you are interested in on a piece of paper. Also, make a column titled What I Want. Be sure to leave plenty of extra space under each name. It may be less time consuming if you go on and pull up each colleges website in different tabs on your browser. To help with this, I have created a printable list which you can grab by signing up for my newsletter at the end of this post!
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How To Make Your College List
Okay. You have worked your tuchus off and used all of the college search criteria in this guide to find schools that meet all or most of your needs.
First, high five! Second, its time to come up with a list of 515 colleges that seem like a good fit for you. If you have far more options than that, keep digging with your research to eliminate choices that dont feel right or dont check off all your boxes.
Otherwise, this is the time when your college search spreadsheet becomes your best friend, hero, and favorite thing ever.
What If Im Undecided
Are you undecided when it comes to a major? Thats OK! College is a great time to explore your interests. Many schools will allow you to enter as undeclared and will offer an advisor, or other services, to help you pick a major. Research the various options available at different colleges and universities and look for a school that can support you as you pick your classes, explore your interests, and choose a major. Make sure the college you choose has enough interesting programs so you can find a major that truly interests you.
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How Should I Choose The Right College
Choosing the right college for you is important. Not only does each career path require a unique kind of degree, some require specific majors. Plus, youll want to consider things like cost, how much independence you want, how big you want your school to be or the culture around extracurricular activities like collegiate sports.
You should visit the colleges youre interested in to see how you like them. You can take a tour of the campus, talk to advisors and current students, and get a feel for the environment overall. Ask a professor if you can sit in on a class, or find a group of students to talk to about their experience there.
Learn more about what you can get out of campus tours with BigFutures Campus Visit Guide here, and virtually tour Indiana schools on the list below.
Reasons Why College Is A Good Choice
152 People Learned
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The Alternative: Take A Gap Year
For many students, a gap year is about crystallising their decision-making developing self-directed and self-regulation skills, broadening their competencies and self-organisation and perhaps their confidence.
Andrew J. Martin, published in the Journal of Higher Education
If youre not sure what you want to do or what you want to study, it might be good to take a gap year. It never hurts to wait a little. You can use your time to do all kinds of exciting things like:
- Travel to another country.
- Work a few interesting jobs.
- Take up a new hobby.
- Start your own business.
You dont need a college degree to be an extra in a short film, start a YouTube channel, or do seasonal work at a local farm. These are experiences you wont regret. They might even help you figure out what you like to do so you can be more informed about your future major.
Data taken from students who took a gap year found the following encouraging information:
- 90% of students returned to college after their break.
- 96% said that the experiences they had during their gap year increased their self-confidence and maturity.
- 84% said that they gained skills that would be useful in their future career.
- 77% said that their gap year influenced their career decision in a major way.
Another study revealed that students who took a gap year are more successful than mature students who went back to school, or their peers who went into university straight from high school.