Picking a college is not like picking a pair of shoes

Tyler is a 17-year-old from Denver, CO. She enjoys reading and traveling, one day she would like to pursue a career in Business Management.

Worcester College by SBA73.

Nothing pleases me more to announce that I only have two months left of cramming for AP exams, juggling extracurricular activities, and traveling to practically every Starbucks in town for college interviews. And nothing worries me more that I will end up at a college I will not absolutely love.

Like many college-bound seniors, I sat down and made a list of all of the things I wanted in a college and narrowed my choices down until I was satisfied. It seemed easy, but the truth is it very hard to get the list right. This is because the second thoughts only begin to drift in after you hit the submit button on your last application. Then it dawns on you that you might not like a big school and are nervous about leaving home.

Everyone knows to talk to parents and counselors and to visit colleges beforehand. But no one told me everything is not as it seems and to not hold my breath for school X. Here are the top five things I wish I would have known:

1. Be realistic: Take everything everyone tells you with a grain of salt. Do not let the glossy booklets go to your head that showcase the sprawling campus and happy students. The alumni will have amazing stories, they are told to tell these type of stories. Take everything everyone tells you in, but at the end of the day, listen to your own heart.

2. Do not rule out a school because of its cost: Almost every college out there has some sort of financial aid or scholarship available. Research all of your options when deciding how to pay for a college. Many people told me not to apply to a certain school because it was ridiculously expensive, but that college ended up offering me a full ride. Sometimes, a school is not as expensive as it seems.

3. Do not shy away from reach schools: I have seen many students at my school make their first choice school that he or she knows for sure they can make it into. Why? Because they fear being rejected. But honestly, the worst a school can do is say no. They will not come to your house and ring your doorbell; the local news will not be called to tell of your rejection. Also, of course, you could very well be accepted. You could be just the reach applicant that the college was looking for.

4. Think about your safety school: This is one of the most common mistakes a student could make. He or she thinks that they will not actually end up there. But the scary truth is you could. Everything could go wrong; you may not get into any schools other than your safety. It should not feel like going to a prison, take the time to find a safety school you really love.

5. Do not hold your breath for a certain school: By all means, apply to that school you have set your heart on. But remember that you might not get in and you might have to go somewhere else. Do not set yourself up for a nervous breakdown. If you refuse to imagine yourself happy anywhere else, the rejection letter could be devastating. There are a lot of great colleges out there. Have at least 2-3 solid back up schools.

Picking a college is one of the most important decisions in one’s life. Do not put all of your eggs in one basket and give yourself a ton of time to think it over. Right now, I am crossing my fingers and hoping for the best as the last college decision letters roll in.

In a few months, I will be saying my goodbyes and hopping on a plane and jetting off to a college more than 700 miles away.

Hopefully, I can look back with no regrets.

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