The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
As I write this article, I can recall all the mixed emotions I felt as I opened my college decision letters: nervousness, excitement, disappointment, and everything in between. However, as someone who completed the rigorous college admissions process, this is the best advice I have for high school seniors who are receiving their college decisions and deciding where to go to college:
- Don’t compare yourself to others
Colleges accept and deny students for various reasons you can’t fully understand or rationalize! Schools want to create a balanced class that has students with a wide range of interests, and they want to balance their classes by gender and sometimes also by race and ethnicity. Some students may also be recruited athletes or legacy students, which gives them a leg up in the admissions process. Therefore, as tempting as it is, comparing yourself to others who may have gotten accepted is not useful or worthwhile. Instead, focus on your acceptance and choosing the best school for you.
- Trust the process and trust your gut
As much as you are looking for a school that you believe is a good fit for you, colleges are also looking for students that would be a good fit for them and embody the school’s core values. If you don’t get admitted to a certain school—as hard as it is now— trust that you will find a place that fits you better, even if you don’t see it at first. Similarly, if you visit a school from which you immediately get bad vibes, don’t be afraid to turn down that offer even if you feel you should love it.
- Talk to current students
One of the best ways to find out if a school is actually a good fit for you is to talk to current students there. While college tours are an amazing way to learn more about a certain school, a current student will tell you things that a tour guide probably wouldn’t, for example, if the food sucks or professors are inaccessible (both of which are very important!) Use your connections and ask your friends and teachers if any of their friends, siblings, or former students attend the schools you’re interested in and would be willing to talk to you. Many admissions offices also have a list of students who have indicated their willingness to speak to prospective students, so you could also reach out to them. The more people you talk to, the better!
- Think about “other” factors
When high school seniors think about where they want to go to college, they focus solely on academic and social aspects. Does this school have my major? Does it have Greek life? While these factors are certainly important, it’s also important to consider other factors that directly impact your daily life. For example, how large is this campus? Would I be okay with walking “X” amount every day? Or, how far is this from home? How often do I want to visit home? These were the questions I honestly didn’t even think about and wished I did. I am lucky to attend a school near a train station, so I can easily go home for the weekend if I want; however, this was not even a factor in my decision-making process.
- Don’t stress too much
I know this is easy to say in retrospect, but you have to trust that everything will work out how it’s supposed to. Many of my friends in high school ended up going to schools that were not their first or even second choices. Yet, they love where they are and cannot imagine attending school elsewhere. Keep the stress of the college admissions process from all the fun of second-semester senior year! Remember: this is the last time you’ll go to school with all your high school friends, so savour every moment!