Looking back at last year: “but how do I college decisions”
This week’s post for my college advice series, Before You Shout For Help, is about the whole college selection process: the search, the narrowing-down, the decisions, and the final choice. It can be (and was, for me) very intimidating and confusing, but it doesn’t have to be!
I started my college search in the beginning of my senior year of high school. I embarked on this ‘quest’ old school – I got some books from my school’s library and the Fulbright office, where I had advisers. The advisers also gave me a bunch of brochures about some schools, which I looked over but proceeded to ignore, as nothing really interested me at this point. My brain refused to grasp the fact that I would be living and breathing at one of these places for the next four years, and that I needed to pay attention. I went at it in a very vague way – did it have my intended major (Physics)? Did it seem like it was a very professional school? Was Physics its strong suit? And, of course, location location location: I loved Boston when I saw it, and ended up applying to schools only in New England (specifically, in a reasonable distance from Boston).
And guess what? I did a horrible search. I came up with a huge list of schools compiled from a bunch of rankings, schools I now know I would hate to attend. I started narrowing it down. I still had no idea what to look for, and it was very stressful not to be able to do anything about it. I wish someone had shook me by the shoulders and said, “HEY. LOOK. You gotta look at colleges in a more realistic, practical, specific way. You gotta look at the actual city they’re in and the transportation within the city. You gotta look at what you would need to take for your major, and what other options you have if you ever change your major. You gotta look at how the school treats the students, because they’re all professional. Do they let the students talk about anything on their admissions blogs? (Clark does!)” As a Clarkie put it, a week or so ago, you gotta look at how a student would “spend his or her time on a rainy Wednesday afternoon”.
I never looked at these things. Instead, I stuck to all the vague things makeshift websites tell you to look at. If you’re here reading these blogs, then you’re doing better on your search than I ever did – congrats! You have a much better idea of the colleges you’re applying to. I also had the disadvantage of being half a world away from the colleges. If you have the chance, go visit the colleges you’re applying to. Even if for a day, go see the college and the people in it. I was lucky enough to have Clark on my application list, even with all my stupid filters.
So, after the decisions came and I found myself with about 7-8 colleges to choose from, I started seeing things differently. I realized I’d be travelling to these cities, paying these institutions, attending their classes. I first looked at the financial aid – it was a big concern for me, and Clark’s aid was so good that I actually sent an e-mail asking if it was a mistake. Looking at the mottos and the way colleges spoke about their missions made me realize, I wanted to grow and mature as a person at a school that cared about me. I wanted a school that cared about the things that mattered and constantly tried to improve the world. So, Clark’s motto of “Challenge convention, Change our world” really spoke to me. I loved the idea that a school cared so much about improving the world that they made it their motto.
So, I chose Clark! And this week, on my first Spring break, I stayed in NYC and Boston. I also got to see an amazing poetry reading with one of my favorite slam poets, and got introduced to other great artists. Back at Clark, even with the snowstorm that hit during our ‘Spring’ break, I got to discover a nice Vietnamese restaurant 3 minutes from my dorm! So, my spring break as a freshman was awesome, and I am now 19 years old. See you guys next week, with the next post of Before You Shout For Help.
Tip: You can click the link on the bottom right corner of this post and “Read more from Before You Shout For Help”!