April 18, 2016

How To Choose A College

High school seniors around the world are dealing with at least one common problem this month: which college?! Some of us ED'd (aka 'early decision') to a school, meaning we applied to a school expressing a special interest and committed ourselves to attending if admitted. Some of us got into our first choice schools, and were given enough financial aid to make the package work, and so the decision was easy! Still others got into several of their choices, and have a big decision to make. A, for example, is still in the process of choosing her college. Of course, she has some time as you have to commit to a college by May 1. It's a really difficult decision and so I've narrowed down some of my tried-and-true tricks to picking your college.

Sometimes size matters....the size of your financial aid package, that is. My parents and I have committed to a loan-free undergraduate college experience so whatever school I decided on, I would have to make sure we could afford with the non-loan part of the financial aid package they offered. This, unfortunately, discounted me immediately from attending one of my top schools: NYU. (I was so excited when I got in! Then I checked the financial aid award....)

Compare programs....after narrowing down schools based on price, analyze which programs you're interested in at each school and compare your interest level + what you think you can get out of those courses/degrees against each other. Personally, I've always been interested in writing, directing, screenwriting etc. however choosing a school that could really only offer me this path in life really scared me. Keeping my doors open to other programs (and later career options) that I also have an interest in, and are somewhat more stable than the career of a writer, was just more comfortable of a choice to me. This is the main debate I had with myself after my admission to Sarah Lawrence--one of my top 2 choices! Of course, if you 100% know that a certain program or path is for you--don't second guess that feeling! Above all, do what feels right for you, not for your parents or your friends or your counselor--this is your education and it's your future.
Connect....every school has a Facebook page now, try searching "Insert College Name Here Class of Graduation Date Year Here". For example: NYU Class of 2020. Join the group and start chatting with potential future classmates! You can find a roommate this way, get your questions answered, and start to make friends at the school should you choose to go there.

Vital Stats....of all your remaining choices, take a deeper look at their housing plans, meal plans, location, facilities, faculty, clubs etc. Everything that you'll be doing to fill your days outside of class. Look at how many your class is expected to be in total, how many of each major, how the college is ranked for your particular major etc.

Visit! If you haven't previously visited the school (and even if you have) attending their Admitted Students' Day (usually a Saturday in April) is a good indicator of how you'll get along at the school. Unfortunately, I could not go to any of mine because I live here in Manila but I felt almost like I was there from the Facebook page posts!

Finally...make a decision! Talking to a parent, friend, guidance counselor etc. can all be very helpful in the process. It's okay to feel lost and torn and confused during this time. It's okay to overthink and second-guess yourself right now. At the end of this month, you have to commit to a college. Pick one and go with it. You may feel a little trepidatious, but you should also feel pretty excited! Also: never fear! If you attend the school and find it's not for you, you can always transfer!
Also...I am excited and proud to announce for the first time on the blog, which university I have decided to attend. After being admitted to several of my choices (the most stressful 2 weeks of my life were waiting for those emails) I have decided upon....The College of William and Mary!!! I'm so excited to become a part of the #tribe2020. 

Have you picked a college yet? What are your best tips? If you haven't, which school are you leaning towards?


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