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December 21, 2013

So Now What?

Congratulations to all of you potential Class of 2018 Clarkies! My brother was just accepted to Clark, so we’ve been sharing in the excitement that you all feel, as well. Many of the blog posts I have been writing this year have been directed at my brother – someone who is in the same shoes that you now find yourself in – with a decision to make. Maybe for you, this isn’t a difficult one – maybe Clark is your first choice, or for someone I met on a tour, Clark is the only school they applied to. But for most of us, deciding where to attend college takes a little more time to think about.

Before you read the rest of this post, remember that millions of high school seniors have been in your shoes and have made it through the process. Continue to remember that when you are going through the decision-making stages and feel somewhat stressed. You will eventually make a decision – something that you might not believe is true today or on April 1, when you have all your options in front of you.

These are some of the scarier things that you should consider that I wish I would have known when I was in your shoes.

What you look for in a college when you are a senior in high school is much different from what you actually want Screen Shot 2013-12-21 at 9.49.00 PMwhen you get to college and are living somewhere 24/7. There are so many little nuances that I’ve heard other people talk about when asked why they chose Clark, and I was no different. At every school I toured (all 24 of them), something I always looked for was people walking together. I had this idea in my head that if people were walking alone, the school must not be a friendly place. So many schools I visited were much larger than Clark and everyone walked alone – Clark was different, and I liked that.

Looking back on that now, I would say that trait isn’t hugely telling of a school. While it is a way to justify Clark students’ friendliness, when you are in college you have a much different schedule than everyone else. College is very different from high school because not everyone has lunch at the same time, or in waves by grade. People don’t have the same five classes in the same four hallways and there isn’t one schedule that everyone follows.

If you compare the schedules of just a few students you would see that people have class anytime from 9am to 9pm. They have clubs and activities throughout the day, go to the gym, eat meals and check their mailbox on their own time. Because there is so much freedom, it’s difficult to constantly be with someone else walking through campus. At the same time, there is a huge sense of independence when coming to college and people may not want to rely on others as much.

As a high school student, I didn’t have this perspective – now you do.

There are many other things that you may have predisposed thoughts about in a college environment, but when you get here, realize that’s not how things work anymore. Many of the clubs I was interested in during my time in high school, I assumed I would like in college. This wasn’t the case, either.

Screen Shot 2013-12-21 at 9.41.55 PMThis leads to another thing I never thought about before college – transforming as a person. When you think about who you were in middle school, and who you are now, most likely there are some serious changes. Well, in college those changes occur – and at rapid speeds. While you may have this idea of who you are today, within one semester of college, you as a person could be very different. For the first time you are going to be given opportunities that will open your eyes. You will live in a new place, maybe with a roommate for the first time, meet people from across the world, and have so many changes all at once. The things you thought you wanted or the person you thought you were may have been true to yourself as a high school student, but as a college student, you grow and may be looking for something different. For that reason, maybe the best way to decide where to go isn’t to necessarily go to a place where you feel 100% comfortable today, but go to a place where there are people and experiences that will help you grow into the person you want to become.

For me, that was Clark. For you…I have no doubt that you’ll figure it out.

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