I know that most of the girls who read my blog are my age or younger, so I’ve decided to write down my thoughts on the college application process – it’s a lot, and to be honest, it’s not pretty. There’s a lot that factors in that I never even considered from the start. I’ll have more posts up soon regarding some more specific things, but for now, here are some of my more general thoughts…
The college process has been one of the most interesting things I’ve been through. It toys with your mind and your heart, and can destroy everything you thought you knew about not only about yourself, but also the world around you. That was perhaps the most cliche thing I’ve ever written – but it’s true. It sounds like I’m exaggerating but in world where there is so much emphasis on higher education, it only seems natural to approach the topic with the same level of urgency.
One of the most important things to keep in mind is that at the end of the day, you have to do what makes you happy. There’s so much emphasis now on going to a “name” school that it can cloud proper judgement. You don’t hear so much now about anyone going to a school where they think they can be the most successful and take full advantage of everything around them. Instead, it’s constant talk about getting into the best school possible, even if it means only maintaining a C average while there.
In my own personal experience, there were many times in which I list out the schools I applied to and receive a forced, “Oh, that’s nice” despite a clear look of absolute disgust and disapproval. Obviously anyone who isn’t going to be supportive isn’t someone who I want to be close with, but it hurt regardless of who said it – going to a prestigious school shouldn’t be the only thing anyone strives for; a degree from a prestigious school doesn’t guarantee a great job, or entrance into any graduate school across the globe.
My screensaver on my laptop is the quote featured above, and I’ve been understanding the meaning of more and more each day. The name of the school you go to will only get you so far; you have to do the work to succeed.
As for the process of touring and applying: find places you can see yourself at, but don’t become unhealthily attached to any one of them. As unfortunate as it is, the school most often chooses you and you don’t get to choose the school. Of course, all said and done it is technically your decision where you attend but it’s an artificial feeling that comes after you’ve been vetted by admissions officers.
Keep in mind that the overall process is misleading and lengthy; a school you loved at the beginning might be the completely wrong fit at the end, and vice versa. You can apply to schools extremely early – starting, technically, August 1. You don’t have to officially put down a deposit anywhere until May 1. A lot can change in 9 months. Your interests and therefore your intended major can do a 360, whether you want big or small can shift dramatically, and lastly, the location of the campus you want to be on can come to mean nothing, or can develop into being everything.
It’s important to keep your options open throughout the process. Talk to people, visit schools, learn as much as you can and soak it all up!
Stay tuned for May 1, when I’ll be announcing where I’m attending school. And also send me any questions you have about senior year in general – I’ll be answering those in another post sometime soon!