College applications are in and now the waiting begins.
At first I thought I knew exactly where I wanted to go and what I wanted to study. Now that I’ve had time to think about it, I am left questioning everything.
Those of us who have to wait until April to hear back from all our schools can expect the hardest period of our high school career.
Any free time I have is spent researching schools on CollegeBoard and Princeton Review. However, being told by adults which schools are a good fit for me hasn’t helped me much.
How can we be expected to know which school is right for us, if there are thousands that could be a potential match?
“I think one of the most important factors is to visit the campus and trust your instincts.” – Philip Behrends (’12)
To answer some of my questions, I resorted to asking people that have been in my shoes within the last few years, hoping to maybe ease my nerves.
My cousin, Elizabeth Bauer, who graduated from Plymouth state University in 2012, explained that “every school has a similar, but unique process in accepting their students. First of all, make sure that you have received all your acceptances before you make a decision.”
I know that Elizabeth is right, but this is what kills me the most. Since I have gotten two out of nine replies from schools, I wish I could commit and have this whole process behind me.
She added, “Weigh the pros and cons and take chances. To be brutally honest again, this is the one time in your life you can live anywhere in the world and have someone else pay for it. Do what you want to. Do what feels right.”
But how do I know?
Elizabeth suggested, “When you get accepted, visit the school again and make sure that you have the same feeling you did the first time you went. If you’ve already visited the schools, you’ll have a gut feeling about which one you want to go to.”
Philip Behrends, who is set to graduate from the University of Kent in 2015, recalled: “I made the mistake of trusting rankings and statistics more than my gut feeling. Looking back I think one of the most important factors when deciding where to go is to visit the campus and trust your instincts.”
While this sounds like a good place to start, I wouldn’t want to rely on my gut for a decision this important. What if my gut is having a bad day?
“Finding the right school is a fun and stressful process. Think about it like a Facebook stalk. Think about if you could see yourself being friends with these people because you’re going to be living with them for four years or more. If they don’t look like your type of people, it’s probably not a good fit,” Elizabeth emphasized.
I wish I could go to school with all my friends from high school. It would make life so much easier. But at the same time, I want to go start a new life and make new friends. But what if I don’t fit in?
She added, “Universities with a wide range of course studies will have more of a variety of students then a specified college. [The friends you make,] get you through the slow quiet days, the tough classes, and the awesome wild weekends. If you don’t see yourself being friends with the demographic of students, you probably won’t be happy there.”
Sadly, things aren’t always this simple.
MacKenzie Baker, a student at the University of Boulder in Colorado, set to graduate in 2017, disclosed: “I did second guess my choice when I got some less than positive reactions from my friends about where I chose to go to school.”
Even when she was at university, MacKenzie still wasn’t sure about her decision: “I also second guessed my choice a lot the first few weeks of school when I didn’t know anyone and both of my roommates were going home every weekend; I was getting super homesick since I didn’t have anyone to hang out with and didn’t have that much work to keep me occupied.”
I have come to terms with the idea that ‘you need to do what’s right for you,’ but I still don’t know what that is. How can I commit to a school, hundreds of miles away from home and not have the slightest clue if I’ll like it.
Before even having to pick a school to commit to, we have to choose where to apply in the first place. Then, we have to deal with acceptances and denials.
Benjamin Bar-Gera, who is currently at the University of British Columbia, reflected: “Getting denials to a lot of the universities I applied to in the states was not easy. But getting acceptances from other universities made that better, and I believe it is an important part of life to get denials to get back to ground and be a bit more humble.”
Once we have the decisions from the schools, our options may be narrowed down a little bit more. But then what? Do I choose the schools by its reputations? Do I want to go to a party school? Do I want to be in a city or in the country?
I don’t know!
By: Isabel Baer