How to find your ideal college

By Pilar Carson

Trade schools, public universities, and private liberal arts colleges: many of us Storm students will continue our educational careers after high school. However, choosing an environment that suits one’s needs and values is important- and often challenging. For this purpose, I’m walking you through some basic, interchangeable steps to find your ideal college and maximize your time in high school.

     That brings me to spreadsheets. One of the first steps to take in finding your ideal college is investigation: researching location, safety, inclusivity, diversity, financial aid, academic rigor, and sports— really, a lot of work. That said, once a rhythm is struck, it becomes easy— like stalking friends on Instagram!

     After the research is done, figure out what is personally important; what you will hold to the highest regard. For me, it was a Must for the college to have Water Polo and Ultimate Frisbee (so my twin sister and I would be able to play what we love), academic rigor, and a reasonable location. It’s important to note that the way you feel at the beginning of your college search may vary well shift, one minute you may want a rainy climate, the next a sunny one, so being open to a variety of college options is wise.

     Another step is college tours. If you have the means to travel, college tours are especially valuable in assessing the school’s vibe and determining what you like and dislike. Whether it’s a rural setting with lush green forests and snowy mountains, or a bustling urban campus with skyscrapers reaching forever upward, there’s bound to be at least one college that fits your criteria.

     Now the fun part, applications! Apply to a range of schools: reach, match, and safety. For most colleges, you’ll have to submit one main essay, so the summer following junior year is a great time to start. I know you’re probably thinking, “but it’s summer!” True, but you’ll thank me later. It takes a fair amount of time to mull through all the “ehh” essay topics, stumble upon the “ah-ha” one, and perfect it, so an early start is best.

     Just to qualify and not be a total hypocrite, in no way did I adhere to these steps. I started my application essay late in the game, I made my spreadsheet in the early fall of senior year, and toured colleges sporadically throughout high school. That said— your girl’s going to college! The above process is just a way to make it easier to find your ideal college. The absolute most important piece of information I can leave you with is to not over stress, have fun your senior year! Take fewer classes— in no way am I suggesting slacking off— but think of it this way, the amount of time it takes to apply for scholarships and colleges equates with at least a semester’s worth of rigorous academic work. For this reason, plan ahead and give yourself a break to live life.

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