I loved college! But in retrospect, I was extremely fortunate that everything fell into place so nicely. During my college search, the word fit was never used, and I didn’t research much beyond my intended major or look past the school’s physical facade.
Back in the 70’s and 80’s most high school students didn’t apply to more than a handful of schools, and they often didn’t visit any colleges until after they were accepted. Today the process is much different, and it’s not unusual for students to apply to 10-14 schools. Applying sight unseen to schools within a four-hour drive is generally not a good strategy! But I’ll cover that in another post.
There’s no denying that I had a great college experience. I found my “people” who just so happened to wear Greek letters. I attended the big athletic events on campus (initially mostly because my friends were going, but soon enough I became a true fan). I landed an awesome internship at a new cable TV station, (I’m dating myself; cable was a new thing at the time.) And through the alumni network, I landed a summer internship and later my first job. Luck was on my side!
I often wonder what type of college experience I would have had at another school with a comparable academic program. As a counselor, I know that there are multiple good match schools for every student. Having a balanced list of likely, target and reach schools that meets a student’s academic, social, and financial criteria is key for success in the college application process.
My best advice for prospective college students is to be honest with yourself about who you are as a student and a person. Then, identify your wants and needs academically, socially and financially. Cast your net wide and be open to learning about schools that are new to you. Do your research before visiting campuses, and don’t underestimate the value of college visits. Then, ask yourself is school “X” a place where I fit in today AND is it a place where I can grow into the person I want to be in the future?
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