Choosing a school will be one of the first big life decisions that I make. That means itís important for me to feel completely confident in my choice. If Iím essentially going to be spending the next 4 years of my life somewhere, I need to make sure that ďsomewhereĒ is the perfect match for me.
Think of it like a dating service.
You try and find the perfect match for you, and whether or not you are compatible is a huge component of whether or not the relationships will work out. Itís the same with your relationship with college.
This weekend, Iím going to be taking a trip with my parents to upstate New York to tour a few colleges. Although driving 17 hours in one weekend may seem a bit ridiculous, itís absolutely worth the trek.
Something about the atmosphere each college campus has is something you really canít experience through the Internet on college websites. Itís all about whether or not you can picture yourself walking around, learning, and living there.
Sticking to the metaphor of a dating service, college tours are like speed dating.
Itís a quick preview that tries to captivate you and pull you in. Of course, itís really just a sales pitch. Each tour says the same thing about their school. In retrospect, they just want you to pick them.
Something college applicants should always keep in mind is that, although you desperately want colleges to choose you, colleges also desperately need you to choose them too. Itís a very codependent system.
This is why college tours are so blinding and, in a way, manipulative. They only show you the good components of the campus, telling you everything you want and need to hear to help pitch that sale. However, despite the fact that youíre really only fed all this good information, itís still easy to find yourself not liking a school. As soon as I set foot on a campus, I can either picture myself being happy and thriving there, or I just canít.
Itís important to look at all the factors of a school. What I like to do is make a list of each of the variables a campus may have. How are the dorms? The food? The sports? A specific major or program youíre looking for? Maybe even school colors and mascots play a role in your decision.
After that, I give each variable a weight of importance, on a scale of 1-10. As Iím going through the tour, Iíll note each variable. Maybe I really liked their dorms and food, but they didnít have the major Iím interested in, which for me has the weight of most importance. This can be a great method in trying to make a decision on whether or not to apply to a certain school.
College is really a test of how well you really know yourself. Itís hard to grasp the concept of how one decision can affect the rest of your life. As scary as that concept may be, you know yourself better than anyone; itís evident that youíll make the right decision for you.
Bridget Brown is a senior at Wellesley High School. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.