Throughout my senior year, I was so focused on finding the “right” college that it was very stressful and overwhelming. I thought, “What if I choose a school, but later I find one that I like more?”
As I look back on my college experience thus far, my mentality about choosing a school has drastically changed. I now feel that it is less like trying to hit the center of a target with a dart, and more like trying to kick a soccer ball into a soccer goal. In other words, I think you could go in several, slightly different directions, and still hit the target. In my opinion, this reality relieves a lot of the pressure of choosing your “dream school.”
Colleges everywhere have outstanding academics, people, and campuses. How then, do you decide which one to go to? When I look back, there were specific aspects of my current university that I loved from my very first college visit. But truly, what I remember more are the reasons I did not choose the other colleges on my list. Perhaps checking universities off your list will be the best way to narrow it down to a school that you will really enjoy. Here are eight reasons to not choose a college:
- Don’t choose a college simply because it’s where all your friends are going. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s bad to attend the same university as your friends, if that’s truly where you want to go. But don’t follow them out of fear of losing your friendship or fear that you won’t find new friends at another college. If they are true friends, you will stay in touch. And I promise you, friends will come wherever you end up. Just be patient.
- Don’t choose a college just because it’s the “it” school. At my high school, there were a couple of big universities that were “the place to be,” according to seemingly everyone. I almost got caught in this current, about to choose a school simply because it seemed cool. The fact of the matter is, the people around you aren’t going to be the ones surrounding you for the next four years. As much as you can, set aside the desire to impress others and go where you prefer the most. This is your life and your college experience – not someone else’s.
- Don’t choose a college because you think you’ll eventually grow to like it. Honestly, if you don’t like it when you visit, it is a pretty clear sign that you won’t like it later. I’m not saying that you have to be starstruck on your first college visit, but I do think that you should see something there that you like and admire, something that draws you in. It won’t be fun going to a school hoping that your feelings towards it change, and, quite frankly, that is a gamble I would not want to make.
- Don’t choose a college because you think you’ll find loopholes to the rules. If the college you’re considering has rules that you are already thinking about breaking, that isn’t a good sign. All schools are different, and their rules are in place with the hopes of giving you the best, safest experience possible. If you fundamentally disagree with the university’s stances on several issues, perhaps consider checking it off your list.
- Don’t choose a college just because it’s close to home. As someone who attends college 45 minutes from my house, I can say that I understand the benefits of being close to home. However, I would encourage you to be open to living far from home, even if you tend to be a homebody. Living close to home has its perks, but it also can be tempting to cling to the last chapter of your life instead of diving into the next. Living further away encourages you to really get involved, make friends and start your new life at college.
- Don’t choose a college because you feel pressure from those around you. Choosing a college out of obligation is not the way to go. It can be very tempting to please those around you, especially family. But I can promise you that, at some point, you will realize that you are happier when you begin making the decisions that you want to make. Going off to college is a great time to start putting your desires first.
- Don’t choose a college just because it’s the cheapest option at first. Cost is a huge factor to consider when choosing a college. Absolutely. Keep in mind, though, that different colleges offer different amounts of financial aid, so just because something looks the cheapest initially does not mean that will end up being the case. Look into each university’s scholarships and really do the math before you make your final decision. You may be surprised how the totals end up comparing.
- Don’t choose a college because you think it will help you escape your problems. Although college can be a wonderful fresh start, I don’t believe it is an excuse to run away from personal problems that still need to be dealt with. As much as possible, trying to make amends and make peace where you are now, so that when you head off to college, it truly is a fresh I think you will look back and be glad you did.
Graduating high school and choosing your next steps is such an exciting time of your life. Don’t let it be hindered by the stress of choosing the “right” college – because perhaps there really isn’t one.
Stay calm, take your time and know that wherever you choose, you will be okay. Hopefully you will love your university and it will be your home for the next four years. Remember, a soccer goal is pretty large. You’ll make a goal.
Hi, my name is Carly Baumgartner, and I am an upcoming junior at one of ICI’s private colleges, where I’m double majoring in Strategic Communications and Media Communications. My hobbies include traveling, writing, art, enjoying time on the lake, and spending time with people. I plan to go to graduate school to pursue a career in social justice. Until then, I’ll be sitting here, blogging and sipping my Diet Coke.