Choosing where to spend your next 4 years can be a daunting thought. You’re comfortable where you are, you and your high school squad is closer than PB&J, and let’s be honest, you have no idea what you want to do. Know this: these feelings couldn’t be more normal. You’re a teenager about to experience a huge change. Scary? Yes. Thrilling? Equally yes! There are absolutely challenges to come, but the personal growth you’ll experience while you’re tackling them head on will pay off more than you could imagine right now. So, take a deep breath and gear up for the next chapter of your life!
Maybe your older siblings or parents have the flags of their alma mater hanging all around the basement. You wear their old college t-shirts and have a license plate cover too. You may go into this whole college process feeling like you don’t have a choice, or maybe you can’t wait to follow in their footsteps. Either way, keep in mind that this is your journey, and no one else’s. This same thought process goes for friends and significant others. Choosing to walk hand in hand into your college gates with your childhood best friends sounds comforting, but it may come with regret later. Know in your heart that you’re choosing where you want to go, not friends, not parents, even grandparents. Only you know what’s best for you.
Perhaps teens get so stressed in choosing the right college because they feel like their decision is set in stone until the end of time. Not true! It’s hard to know for certain if you’ll truly mesh with a place once you’re there. That is OK. Don’t feel like you mistepped or made a mistake, either. Rather, see it as a form of bravery. Though you may have been uncertain about a place, you packed your bags and made the move anyways. After giving it a fair try, you made the conscious, adult decision to take your adventure elsewhere. No harm, no foul, and onto the next. One size does not fit all!
There are hundreds of colleges to choose from. Where to start? Make a list of everything you want out of a college experience. Don’t hold back! Consider some of the following:
Let’s talk academics. College has a certain stigma that today’s society needs to work on shaking. Go to college to study X, learn X, apply for a job in X. Retire. The end. There’s nothing wrong in that, it’s actually admirable. Education and the college experience has become so versatile, that it’s almost better to walk in blind and see what you gravitate to. Colleges even expect this! Often times you’ll find programs literally called “Undecided,” believe it or not, for those who have not decided! Another beautiful thing? Changing majors more than once is entirely possible. Dabble in everything that interests you until you at the time, not necessarily the thing you think you should be doing.
Stay away from the things that are not rooted in your success.
Being in your late teens is a time to be inspired and filled with passion about whatever it is you land on. Be open to new opportunities, be impressionable and eager to find out what classes, clubs, dorms, hobbies, extracurriculars and new friends are calling your name. College is meant to be made your own, so get out there and grab it by the horns!