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I am graduating in May but i still can't decide what college I want to go to. How did ya'll decide?


At this point in time during your high school career, as I've seen many of my own peers ending up doing, is to try your community college. Whether you know or have an idea of what you want to major in or not (undecided), a community college or junior college is a great first step. It's not far from home, there are still plenty of options class-wise, and they are very willing to work with you on your situation. You can make a decision that you feel strongly about and try to stick with it, but if life or your interests don't agree with that then you can always change your mind. Also, if community college is not right for you, then you can always reach out via visit or email to colleges and I'm sure they'd be willing to work with you! Leah H.

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18 answers


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Nicole’s Answer

Hi Hannah,

I've definitely been there! Like Elisar said, it's completely normal to be uncertain.

I also agree with choosing a school that best supports your career goals and passions. So many opportunities, like internships and networking events, will come from a program that you love.

If you haven't already, take a tour of the school and take some time to explore the building(s) of the major you're interested in. If you see friendly students around the area, ask them if you can ask them any questions you have about the major.

Lastly, there are many other factors in mind when considering a school. Here are just a few:
- Distance from school to home
- Campus culture and organizations
- Location and community of the school
- Tuition costs

I'm sure you'll pick the best one that works for you. Best of luck and have a great college experience!

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Johanna’s Answer

Hi Hannah,
I had a really hard time deciding where I was going to go for undergraduate, ultimately I procrastinated the decision until the last minute. I realized that I pretty much knew all along where I wanted to go, but just didn't want to commit. That being said, I found it came down to a few key area of distinction for me (I was trying to decide between the University of Minnesota and University of Wisconsin - Madison).

- campus culture - do you want to be in the heart of a downtown? in a more rural setting? a smaller town or a big city?
- how far I was going to be from my family - do you want to be close or a little farther away?
- do you know a lot of people already going to this school? maybe you want to branch out and meet new people at college, this can be hard to do if you choose a school where all your high school friends are going and it's easy to settle into old friendships. Or maybe you want to keep those bonds from HS and continue those relationships by going to the same school. Both are fine just something to keep in mind!
- does the school you choose have the major or potential majors you want? do you need to apply to a special program after freshman or sophomore year to qualify or are you able to pursue your major when you start? Its good to keep in mind so you don't get a few years into a school and realize you need to transfer to get the major you want.

Those were the ultimate things that helped me realize that I wanted to attend the University of MN. I truly think I would have been happy either way, but I don't look back with any regret :-) Good luck and congratulations!!

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Daniel P.’s Answer

Hi Hanna, first off congratulations on graduation! So my daughter is a senior and graduating this May, so she is in the same boat and took a unique approach (at least to me) to finding a school. My advice to Maddie was do some research and select 4 or 5 schools then we could travel to the 4 or 5 and see which she wanted to attend then apply to those.

Maddie took a different track, she did research and applied to 12 - 18 colleges after research and then planned to only visit the ones where she was accepted. She didn't want to visit, fall in love with a college and not get accepted. Her approach has been very successful and saved us lots of travel costs.

Couple points I'd pass along:

1) different colleges have different personalities, its really does pay to actually set foot on campus and speak with official folks as well as well as normal students.

2) where you go to school will have little impact on your future success, its really what you do when your there. I know that sounds weird but I would refer you to a series of articles from the Atlantic Magazine from several years ago they did a nice job dissecting if an Ivy League education made much of a difference and was it worth the cost. Bottom line, you may make better connections at an Ivy but you can receive as good or better education are public institutions. Its really what you do when there.

3) there is no one route to success at a college, I had to pull out die to health problems with my father, did night courses, work bar-tending and waitering and took 7 years. Looking back I think that time was critical to my current success, and I'm very happy.

4) try to keep in mind that taking 4 or 7 years out of your life to learn, be exposed to new ideas and people is an absolute gift, so take time to enjoy and try something outside of your comfort zone. Have Fun!!


Daniel P. recommends the following next steps:

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/04/what-is-an-elite-college-really-worth/521577/

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Elisar’s Answer

Dear Hannah,

It's totally okay to be uncertain, you just have to follow what you love to do. Choose a school that is best for your major or if you want to stay home then choose the one that is closer. You just have to eliminate your options and you will get there. It was easy for me to choose in a short amount of time because I wanted to stay closer to home. Hope this helps! and wherever you end up going, you will do great.

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Richard’s Answer

Don't forget to include price in your decision! There are some fields, like business and politics, where it might be matter where you go and what kind of connections you make. But in science and engineering, it is probably better to save your money.

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Sebastian’s Answer

I would say to make sure to look at the tuition and additional charges for each university you are considering. For me it came down to that since out of state tuition at most schools is pretty expensive and if you consider the cost of dorms, meal plans, and books it can elevate quickly. I chose to go instate since that tuition was significantly cheaper. But I would also say reach out to people who you may know going to these universities because most reviews online are usually to the extreme, people either compare the college to heaven or they extremely hate the place, but they don't give you a lot of detail as to why. I would also just say to throw away the stigmas behind particular universities, my parents always said "there is no such thing as a bad school but there is such thing as bad students". I would say pick where you feel most comfortable and make the best of that situation, don't just pick a school because it's the most prestigious.

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Tia’s Answer

Hi Hannah,

There are some really great answers here!

My personal experience was much the same as others. I chose the top 4 colleges that I was interested in and visited them. I spoke with their advisors on the fields of study I was interested in and what that looked like at their college. If available, I sat in on a class as well. One school offered a summer program the year I was a Junior in HS and I was able to stay there for a week and experienced the campus and what the professors were like. I also took in the students and overall culture of the schools.

There were other factors such as tuition fees, community, and distance from home. Once you think you have it narrowed down, don't be afraid to visit again to ensure it is the right fit. You want to make sure that you are going to be somewhere where you will be happy and can be successful!

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Grace’s Answer

Hi Hannah,

I couldn't agree more with what Nicole said!

As a California native, I wanted to explore and live in a new city, so I personally chose my college based on location. I'd always had dreams about living in New York, so I started researching which colleges were in that city. I then ranked that list by looking at what I could major in, understanding the campus/dorm culture, reading about what students at that college thought about the school, and scheduling campus tours for my top choices.

I hope this helps!

Best of luck,
Grace

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Karen’s Answer

I decided my undergrad college based on legacy--my two older brothers both went to UNC- Chapel Hill and I had spent many trips in Chapel Hill so I knew that I loved the place and felt comfortable there. It helped that I wanted to pursue a business degree and they had a great program. I also visited two other schools to compare.

My graduate school choice was completely different. It was based on location and finances. I needed to work and go to school at the same time.
It turned out to be a great experience. I highly recommend working first before going to graduate school.

Regardless of which school you select, take advantage of the opportunity. Embrace learning, expand your horizons and experience, and enjoy it!

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Kaitie’s Answer

I toured about 5 colleges when I was deciding to go. I decided on colleges based on how comfortable the campus was to me. I don't like bigger schools, so I typically liked smaller, private institutions, however everyone is different. They end up having smaller classes, allowing you to get closer with your professors. I also liked having a home or community sense. If I went to a campus and I already felt at home there, it went to the top of my list. This is all about personal taste though, if you feel that you're more comfortable and can see yourself succeeding at a big university, choose it! Another factor in choosing a college is also the distance from your family and friends. If you're looking to get away, choose a school that is far away from home. I wanted to be away from home, but not so far that I couldn't take weekend trips home.

Kaitie recommends the following next steps:

Think about how you would feel as a student there
Does it feel like home?
How far away is it from family?

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Michelle’s Answer

It's a tough decision to make! Personally, I had a choice between three schools. I was able to take campus tours and even sit in on classes which helped me get a feel for the academic environment. In the end, I chose a school based on student lifestyle. While you are there for education, the school you choose will be your home for the next ~4 years so choose a school whose students share similar values to you and you will likely be happy and receive a good education.

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Robin’s Answer

If you're not sure now then go do something else for a year - work and play and travel and it will help you get perspective so when you do start college you will be able to do so much more sure that it is the correct college and course for you.

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Shniece’s Answer

Greetings Grace!

One of the best resources I can recommend is to go out and buy or order a "career book" from Amazon . There are several out there from "Do what you are" to selecting college majors to "career planning".

Any books along that path will do (these books will state the career or a position within a career-provide what you will be doing or what that position would be like then guiding you on the path you would need to take towards that career.

I cannot stress to look at careers or positions that believe you would like and have a level of interest in (something that may even seem fun , yet rewarding to you and you will never feel like you are working-once you succeed in your career path.

Good Luck~

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Scott’s Answer

If I had to do it over (as someone not knowing exactly what I wanted to do), I would have gone to community college for 2 years to try to save money and to have more time to determine my career goals.

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Kaylee’s Answer

I looked them up and also visiting them helped with my decision.

Were there particular things you looked for in a college that helped you make that decision? Gurpreet Lally

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Jeffrey’s Answer

Hi Hannah,

The decision on where to attend college seems daunting at this time. One thing to keep in mind is that changing colleges is a fairly frequent occurrence. If you elect to attend a specific college, it would be possible to transfer to a different college after a semester or a year, but keep in mind that it may be difficult to transfer 100% of credits.

When I was considering a college to attend, I toured 4 different colleges within the state and met with students and advisors at each college. During this process I narrowed my selection down to 2 colleges, and was leaning toward attending College A. I had taken a year off after HS, but reached back out to a HS teacher that who taught 2 of my classes. Both her and her husband were teachers at my HS, and they had both attended College A. She said that College A was good at the time they attended, but she advised that College B would be a better selection.

In the end, I attended and graduated from College B based on her advice, and I am forever grateful for that advice! If you can find someone you trust who has attended the colleges you have in mind, I am sure they will provide good advice.

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Kevin’s Answer

When it came to choosing Arizona State University over other colleges that I was accepted into, it came down to a few, yet very important, factors. All throughout high school, I thought I wanted to go to a small-sized college/university, because I wanted something more intimate compared to the 400-people lecture halls we all hear about. Well, I could not have been more happier with my choice of going to ASU over a small university because of these factors that I really valued:

1) Extracurriculars: having a college that has so many extracurriculars is going to be so important, not just for your own personal advancement, but for future employers to look at as well. Grades are one thing, but employers look at well-rounded individuals who are involved in outside things as well. ASU had thousands of different clubs, from cultural to career to niche-hobbies. These extracurriculars helped me become who I am today, and also helped support my career as well.

2) Variety of majors/minors: does your college of choice have a very set amount of majors/minors, or do they have a large variety of different, and even niche, majors built for different types of students? This was important to be, because I had no idea what I wanted to major in when I entered college, but having all these choices, while it may seem overwhelming, actually turned out to be so helpful. There were so many different classes and professors that had specified in different majors. In the end, I was able to take different classes that pertained to different majors in order for me to select which major I really wanted to graduate in.

3) Resources: there are so many types of resources your college/university can provide, from financial to health to educational. The more resources they are able to provide, the more successful you can be in navigating college. I found that ASU offered such a large variety of resources, and while I did not use all of them because I didn't need to, it felt very reassuring to know that they were always there.

Hope this helps!

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Rachel’s Answer

The deadline to gain admission to many 4 year universities has already passed. I would suggest going to school at a community college for one year, maintaining a high GPA, and visiting some 4 year universities prior to transferring for next year.

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