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College Process: Tips and Tricks

Graduates+walking+towards+future
Graduates walking towards future

Graduates walking towards future

Getty Images/Flickr RF

Getty Images/Flickr RF

Graduates walking towards future

Lauren Donohue, Staff Writer

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College: the most daunting word to a high school senior. The time has come for you to pick the place where you’ll spend the next four years enjoying your life and preparing to enter the “real” world. We’ve all been thinking about college for our entire high school careers and are now expected to pick one place where we will love the academics, athletics, facilities, faculty, dorm rooms, and people? Of course, the college process is going to be stressful at times, but don’t worry, I have some college process hacks to help you find your way during one of the most stressful parts of your life.

1. First you should make a list of possible schools. Even if you aren’t sure you will like them. Use naviance.com and your guidance counselor’s advice based on grades, standardized test scores, and tuition costs to help you form a list. This list might be 50 schools long, but that’s more than OK.

2. Juniors, if you have no idea where you want to go, the best thing to do is to figure out where, geographically, you want to be. This will narrow down your list quite a bit. For myself, I knew I wanted to be driving distance from home. But if you want to take a plane to California, that’s awesome too!

3. Next figure out the size of the school you will feel most comfortable at. Are you okay with having a lecture with 100 other people? Or do you like having a class with 20-25 students? Do you want to be able to get to know most of the people in your graduating class? Or do you want to be seeing tons of new faces every day? Asking these questions will help you decide what kind of school is right for you.

4. Visit schools!!! The best way I have found to see if you like a school is to visit it. I recommend going when the campus is lively (so not summer break). This ensures that you will be able to see what the student life is like when all of the students are there. You will be able to see how involved students are, what they like doing in their free time, and where the “cool” spots are to hang out when you don’t have class. Whenever I visited a school, I always asked the students I saw questions, because they are the people with the best answers, considering they experience the school lifestyle everyday. The reason visiting schools is so crucial is to see firsthand the qualities you like and don’t like in every school, so you know what to look for going forward. Also, you might look at a school that perfectly fits everything you are looking for on paper, but once you visit, you might hate the “vibe” of the school.

5. Become best friends with your guidance counselor. Get to know them and ask them all the questions you have because they have all the answers you need. They are also a great way to unload all your stress!

6. BE ON TIME!!! Make sure you know all your deadlines and have submitted all the information required on the Common App. Being on time means being early. If you get everything done early, you won’t have to worry about it the night before it is due and you’ll avoid some stress.

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College Process: Tips and Tricks