Today I am sharing a guest post from Brittany Shaffer. She is a junior in college, studying Business and Communications. She’s also the founder of College Junction, a resource for college students with tips about dorm life, saving money, finding a job/internship, and making the most of the college experience! It’s a great website to share with your college bound kid! I asked Brittany to share her experience with making a college choice and she has an interesting story to tell that will probably resonate with a lot of kids out there who are afraid to make the wrong decision.
My Experience Searching for the Right College
I remember this time in my life about two and a half years ago. I’d thought about college, and I knew I wanted to study Business and Marketing. But where? Anyone can tell you where to find a good college. But I wanted to find the right college. I didn’t want to just find somewhere that I could get a degree and hope to find a job. I wanted to find somewhere that was perfect for me! But how was I to do that? Let me briefly share with you my experience searching for the right college, so hopefully you, too, will be able to find the college that’s right for you.
First of all, I had to make a set of important factors in a college. I didn’t come from a lot of money, so finances were going to be a big deal for me. I could look at expensive schools, but only if they had good financial aid programs. I also knew that I didn’t want to go too far from home, but far enough that I wouldn’t be tempted to come home every weekend. I knew I needed somewhere that had a Business program, since that’s what I wanted to study. I also knew I wanted somewhere that wasn’t too big, but also had lots of opportunities for me to get involved in.
Next, I made a list. I searched for colleges that fit my criteria and I made a list. After a while, I had narrowed it down to about three schools that really had my attention. So, I set up visits to go look at them. I was hoping that I’d get to one of them, and at the moment I arrived on campus I’d just know that “this was the one!” Sadly, that never happened for me. I didn’t dislike any of schools. In fact, they seemed great! But none of them jumped out and said that this was definitely the right place for me. So, I kept thinking.
Then, I made a pros and cons list. I kept thinking and talking to people to get their advice and feedback on what they thought. I made a list of each school’s pro’s and con’s. I was still hoping for that moment when I’d just wake up one morning and magically, everything would make sense and it would be crystal clear where I was meant to be! But, that still didn’t happen. So after a while, I just made a decision on what seemed like the best choice. It fit all of my criteria, the pros outweighed the cons, and I was excited about it!
I still wondered. That entire summer, I started wondering if I’d made the right choice. After all, everyone tells these stories of a real moment when they just “knew” where they were meant to be with school, and I’d never felt it! Was I missing something? After I’d decided on one school and sent my enrollment in, another one on my list sent me my financial aid letter, basically offering me a (nearly) full ride. Was it okay to turn that down? Would I regret it if I didn’t?
In August when I got to school, it didn’t take very long for me to fit in and know that this was where I was supposed to be. The day after I arrived at school, I finally had that moment- that moment of peace that said this was where I truly belonged. Despite my worries and fears, I knew I actually had chosen the right place. (By the way, a few weeks before I got to school, my school sent me a new financial aid award letter making it almost as inexpensive as the other school. I felt this was a good sign of confirmation.)
So if you’re waiting for a moment with an epiphany, it might not come until you’re finally where you’re supposed to be! You just have to weigh your decisions, get feedback, make the smartest decision you can, and run with it! Since I’ve been at college, I’ve made the closest friends of my entire life, and experienced activities, events, and moments that I wouldn’t trade for the world. So brace yourself. The college search process is just the first part of the whole journey!