Concerned about how to get into college? Have trouble getting in? Worried about the price? Whether you’re a junior in high school deciding whether to take the SATs or ACTs or a senior in high school who has decided to go to your dream school, here are 7 things you can do to make the experience less stressful and learn to love it.
1. INVEST in something
Pay attention to what YOU want. Please don’t think about how wanted you are. As long as it’s legal, doing what you want is never wrong. Are you academically driven? Want to have friends? Want to cheer for your team in a stadium with 50,000 seats? You don’t know what you want. Let your past positive experiences inside and outside the classroom guide you. Worried about making a mistake? There is no answer that is WRONG. Looking for something.
2. Repeat: I make my dreams come true.
51% or more of your future success depends on you. You won’t be successful just because you go to school. An admissions counselor doesn’t decide what you’re worth or how you feel about yourself. You decide what will happen in the future. A school is just a place where you can do the things you want to do and meet people who can help you do these things. Find a campus that has what you’re looking for. Choose up to five dream schools. Make sure that at least one of these schools is a sure thing for you. You will make sure your dreams come true this way.
3. Get Help (even if you don’t need it)
I know you are smart enough to figure things out on your own. Still, get help. Reach out to people who want to help you for free, people you pay to help you, and people you ask to help you. Even if you think the answer is clear, you should still ask people questions. Allow them to help. Use these questions to get to know people who might be able to help you through this process. You will learn things you never thought you would. Instead of using Google, Alexa, or Siri, talk to the amazing student ambassadors, advisors, counselors, volunteers, experts, and other students you meet as you walk around campus.
4. Pretend you’re getting a new phone (or something you want)
When you buy a new phone, you don’t hesitate to ask people what they think about it. You can talk about what they liked and what they didn’t. Right? You would do research and ask questions before buying a car. Don’t worry about being bothersome. The cost of college is about the same as buying a lot of phones or cars. Find the good in what’s going on. Once you know what you want and can picture it, shopping for it can be fun.
5. Repeat: The best school isn’t always the best school for me
That school your best friend is looking at might be ranked higher, but it might not be the right school for you. The BEST school will have places where you can do the things YOU like to do. People you want to meet and get to know will be at the BEST school. If you know what you want, it will be easier for you to find the best school for YOU. You might find that the best school for you is a big state school with a small honors program and a lot of financial aid.
6. Ask the people who found the money where it is.
You need money to pay for school, right? Talk with the students who found the money. Talk to people who can help you get financial aid and have access to the money. Find out who the seniors are at the schools you want to go to. Ask the financial aid office for names of people you can talk to, or find high school graduates. How did they pay for college? Ask them about tips, scholarships, and information that only they know. Talk to the people who can help you find the money. For example, you could go to summer school at your local community college to graduate early, work as a residence assistant to pay for room and board, or use merit aid, which is money that isn’t based on how much you need it.
7. Why are you going to college?
Why are YOU going? Not why do your parents want you to go or why do you want your kid to go. Why are YOU going to college? If you don’t know what kind of job you want, think about what kind of life experiences you want. If you still don’t know what to do, you might want to press the pause button. There are GAP year programs and other options that are great. You can go to a community college, take prerequisite classes, and work in a job related to your interest or passion. You can make your own internship program that helps you save money, get college credit, and connect with mentors. Once you know what you want and why you want it, you can stop worrying and have fun looking at colleges and finding what you want.