When I was four-years old, I knew exactly where I wanted to go. My long-term goal in kindergarten was to attend “Harvort,” and I’m happy to say that Sienna from the past would be proud of me. Although I ended up coming full circle with my college decision, I consumed just about every college pamphlet that came my way in the mail, went through a myriad of charts and campus tours, and agonized over my final choice for Early Decision. While the process felt daunting at the time, I am glad that I used those tools to feel confident in my choice. Here are a few things that helped me to realize that Harvard was the school for me.
Visiting The Campus
As we meandered through the campuses with our guides, my mother and I tried to truly experience the college life. We explored the towns, tried the food, and generally wanted to get a good feeling of the area that I would commit to for the next four years. Take your time getting to know the campus and surrounding area. Go to a museum. Audit a class. Attend a summer program. The right college is the one that feels like home.
Reading The Material
There is a plethora of valuable information to be found on each college website. I felt like each click was a form of “speed dating” my college options. I learned the general sizes of the schools, estimated tuition cost, whether I would be in a dorm or off-campus, and whether or not I could have a car with just a few clicks. The websites and pamphlets helped me to consider college perks and drawbacks that I never imagined.
Making a Chart
As we traveled across the country, I made a point to write notes about what I liked and disliked about each college that I visited. These notes were vital when making my final decision. They gave me a snapshot into my true first impressions of each college. You will be amazed how details about that delightful restaurant in Seattle or the striking Atlanta skyline can blur as you blaze through tour after tour.
I was lucky enough to meet several students and alumni at each college that I visited. This helped me to understand the “vibe” of each school. When exploring college options, I wanted to get a taste of each one. Every school has its own flavor, and it is important to choose one that suits you, whether it is the zest of a bustling city or a home-style countryside retreat.
The largest part of college selection is internal. While taking in the campus and reading the material helps to cushion the weight of the decision, choosing a college is a leap of faith. As a student, you are the only one who can determine if you will thrive in any particular environment. As you explore your college options, dream big, reflect, and remember to be honest with yourself as you enter a wonderful and exciting chapter of your life.