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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?

#college-selection #college-advice

Thank you comment icon 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

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Subject: Career question for you

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Veronika’s Answer

Hello Hannah!

Picking a college is a big decision, and there are a lot of things you need to think about. Everyone's different, so what's important to you might not be the same as what's important to someone else. Here are some things you might want to consider:

Study Programs: Make sure the college has the subjects you want to study. If you're not sure what you want to do yet, look for a college that has a lot of different options.

Accreditation: Check if the college is accredited. This means it's been checked out and meets certain standards. If you get a degree from an accredited college, it's more likely to be accepted by employers and other schools.

Location: Think about where you want to go to college. Do you like big cities or small towns? Do you want to stay close to home or try somewhere new? Where the college is can make a big difference to your experience.

Size: The size of the college can change a lot of things, like how many students there are per teacher, what subjects you can study, what clubs you can join, and what the campus feels like.

Costs and Financial Aid: Think about how much it's going to cost to go to college. This includes things like tuition fees, accommodation, books, and living costs. Also, find out what kind of financial help the college offers, like scholarships or work-study programs.

Campus Culture: This is all about what it's like to be a student at the college. Think about things like social events, clubs, and the general vibe of the place. You want to make sure it's a good fit for you.

Career Services: Find out if the college has a good career services office. They can help you with things like finding internships, getting a job after you graduate, and giving you advice about your career.

Graduation Rate and Job Success: Check how many students graduate from the college. This can give you an idea of how happy students are and how good the programs are. Also, look at how many graduates get jobs in the field you're interested in.

Diversity: If it's important to you, look at how diverse the student body is. A diverse college can give you the chance to meet people from all sorts of different backgrounds.

Choosing a college is a big commitment, so take your time. Do your research and visit a few different colleges before you make up your mind. Good luck with your decision!
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Kaylee’s Answer

I looked them up and also visiting them helped with my decision.
Thank you comment icon Were there particular things you looked for in a college that helped you make that decision? Gurpreet Lally, Admin
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