How to Pick the Right College

For many of you readers out there, the time to commit to a college is approaching rapidly. Picking the right college can lead you to having what could be the best four years of your life, while picking the wrong college can lead you to having a bitter taste in your mouth when you walk across the stage on graduation. The following are ten tips to help make sure you pick the right school for you.

  1. Make sure you visit plenty of schools. It is very important to visit a wide variety of schools. Even if you have your mind set on a school, still look around to make sure there aren’t any better options. Also, we would recommend visiting small, medium and large schools to see what style of campus and community suits you best.
  2. Make sure the schools you visit fit your budget. There is no worse feeling than falling in love with a school that is out of reach financially. If you are a sophomore orĀ  junior in high school, first of all, good for you for searching for schools so early. Second of all, no matter what you hear from your peers, high school DOES matter. If you put the time and effort in now, you will receive better grades which will equate to a better scholarship. Also, take the time to take practice ACT or SAT tests so you can perform well on those, as many schools put a heavy weight on those when considering applicants and giving away scholarships. If you take the time and put the effort in now, you will get a handsome scholarship that just might put your dream school within reach.
  3. Make a list of the pros and cons of each school you visit. This is a very useful tool to help you compare and contrast various schools and what they offer. Take note of things such as price, location, places to eat on campus, extra curricular activities, school clubs, fitness centers, and whether they offer services such as free printing or free laundry. These things may seem insignificant in the short term, but when you are living on or traveling to school every day, the little things such as those previously listed make a world of difference.
  4. Take note of the parking situation on campus. This is more of an issue if you plan on commuting to school, rather than living on campus. College is very different from high school, in that classes are held at practically every time of the day. This means that you may not have a class until 1:30pm, when other students have been on campus since 8:00am. If you are one of those students that have a later class, parking can become a nightmare. My school has three very large parking lots and a three or four story parking garage, and I still constantly hear of commuters complaining of the lack of parking. More parking on campus will equate to less added stress during your commute, especially on those days when you are running late.
  5. Make sure you LOVE the campus. As superficial as this may sound, this is actually surprisingly important. As a resident, you will essentially be spending the next four to five years of your life on campus. Even if the academics and sports team are phenomenal, if you do not like the layout and physical appearance of your campus, it will feel like you’re in prison. Hmmm. Wait. Sports teams? That would make a pretty good sixth point, wouldn’t you say?
  6. Do research on their sports teams. This will only really apply to athletes, unless you are really into college sports. Check your school to see how their sports teams perform, and what sports are offered. Look at things such as the athletic facilities, weight training facilities, and other amenities for athletes. Also, make sure you meet with the coach for your sport, and try to meet with some of your future team mates and get to know them.
  7. Research the school itself. Do some research online to see how your prospective schools stack up in terms of academics and overall student satisfaction. There are numerous websites that rank schools, and there are also places online where you can read students personal experiences with various schools. Also, try to pick a school with a good reputation. This will not only catch the attention of potential employers on your job applications and your resume, but it give your degree a greater sense of value when you graduate.
  8. Create a list of your top three schools. Once you visit a good handful of schools, (I visited roughly twelve campuses), you will likely have a very good idea of what schools are a right fit for you, and what schools are definitely not right for you. At this point in time, make a list of your top three schools. Then, you can take a look at these three schools in greater detail, and really analyze and examine what they offer you. It would be beneficial to schedule additional campus visits, stay overnight, and attend “admitted student days” and other events such as that to get a better idea of what the campus is like.
  9. Try to picture yourself going there. While there truly is no way to do this without actually attending a school, it is crucial to try to picture yourself attending the school. Ironically, the school that I committed to and am currently attended is one I hated the first time I visited. I visited on a drab, dull and cloudy day, and my tour guide did not seemed enthused. However, I went back to campus on a beautiful day for an admitted student day, and it became clear to me that this was the school for me. As silly as it may sound, if a school “feels right” can really make a difference in your college experience, and when you do find the school that is a perfect match for you, you’ll know.
  10. Be proud of your decision! Once you finally do make a decision and commit to a school, take a deep breath and be proud! It is a long and timely process, but ultimately it is one of the biggest, (and most important), decisions you will make in your teen years. Do not take this decision lightly, and make sure you put the time in to making the right decision.

Your college experience will be what you make of it, and in many cases you get out what you put in. If you truly take the time to make a well thought out decision, you can look back at your college experience twenty years from now without a single ounce of regret.

Are you in the process of picking a college? What tips do YOU plan on utilizing to make sure you pick the right school for you? We would love to hear from you! Leave a comment and join the discussion!


How to Keep Your High School Sweetheart in College

I’ll never forget the day. The day I decided to ask my high school sweetheart to be my girlfriend. There was so much to look forward to, and it seemed as though nothing could bring us down. Being that I was a junior and she was a sophomore, the only worry on our mind was graduating and making the most of high school (which we both certainly did).

Fast forward a year, and I am getting ready to graduate. As both my girlfriend and I found out, time really does fly. However, the question that was drawing nearer and nearer like dark clouds rolling in to spoil a sunny summers day, was “how can we make this relationship work in college?”. We had both heard numerous horror stories of inseparable high school sweetheart’s relationships going down the toilet as soon as they moved off to college, but we remained convinced that we would be different. Three years later (with almost two years of college under my belt, and almost one year for her), we are still going strong. But how did we do it?

As with any other major endeavor in life, relationships take time. Even though we do see each other on the weekends, experiencing college for the first time can be very life changing. You are surrounded by hundreds of new people that you have never met, you meet new people, and you discover new things about yourself. Every one of these new experiences can cause a couple to grow apart, no matter how in love they were before college. This leads us into a brief list of tips that we utilized to help make our relationship last, even as we moved on to college.

Tip Number One- Communicate Often.

Communication is crucial to maintain a relationship. This doesn’t mean you constantly need to be talking with your significant other twenty four seven, this simply entails that regular communication has personally helped us in maintaining our relationship. A few good examples would be a phone call goodnight, Skype calls, or even a simple text message letting your partner know how your day went, how you did on an exam, etc. For us personally, utilizing these methods helped us not only feel closer and more connected, but helped ease our nerves and tensions about starting college.

Tip Number Two- Stay Loyal and Be Honest.

Relationships are built upon two basic components: Trust and Loyalty. While attending college, as mentioned earlier, you will be meeting a lot of new people. Staying loyal to your significant other is crucial for maintaining a relationship in college. While it may be relatively easy or tempting to want to flirt with all of the new people that you are meeting, the long term consequences are detrimental to the relationship you already have. In short, if you truly care about and love your significant other, this shouldn’t even be an issue. The best way to avoid these situations is by ensuring you aren’t putting yourself in situations in which your loyalty will be tested. Avoid heavy drinking at parties where your judgement capabilities will be impaired, and avoid situations in which you will be alone with a member of the sex you are attracted to (and yes, that means rejecting the cute girl from Chem101’s offer to study in her dorm). The next aspect of tip number two is to be honest with your girlfriend or boyfriend. I like to think honesty is like the foundation of any serious relationship. Just as a building without a solid foundation will crumple to the ground, a relationship without trust will fall apart in a similar way. Being honest and transparent with your significant other not only will strengthen the foundation of the relationship, but it will also prevent potentially relationship ending arguments further down the road in which you have to explain why you lied in a given situation. Through personal experience, it is almost always easier to tell the truth up front and deal with the temporary tension, than keep it hidden until it eventually reveals itself.

Tip Number Three- Just Give it Time!

As I was finishing up my time in high school, a close friend of mine informed me that he and his girlfriend would be breaking up before they moved off to college. They had been dating for quite some time, and it honestly bothered me to see them just throw it away and not even give it a chance. What I am trying to get at, is, you’ll never really know how your relationship will turn out unless you give it a try. Consider college to be the ultimate test of your relationship: if it is meant to be, then things will work out, and you will find ways to make it work. It is important to not force the relationship out of desperation or fear of losing the person you love. People change, and sometimes it is impossible to prevent that from happening. However, for those who utilize these tips and try to make your relationship work, power to you. It isn’t easy, but if the person you are with is the one for you, then you will sail through college and grow and mature, both individually and as a couple, more than you can imagine. Plus, you’ll have a hell of a story to tell your friends about how you and your partner were high school sweethearts.

Have you had a high school relationship last through college? What did YOU do to make it last? Leave a comment and join the discussion!