When I was 16 I made a list of about 300 colleges that I wanted to go to. Realistically, I did not know a single thing about them and there was no way I could’ve attended all 300 schools. The only thing I was sure of while searching for colleges was that I wanted to go to law school after. Fast forward to the end of my junior year, I constructed a list of about 60 schools that I thoroughly researched and liked. When senior year came along, I narrowed down the list to 20 schools according to 5 things I needed in a college.
Below I listed the 5 things I wanted in my dream college and why. I know this road can be difficult so I hope this helps you in figuring out where you belong.
For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to go far away for college. I was thinking of Europe, Hawaii, California, Florida, and at one point, Arizona. I always dreamt of discovering a new city and living somewhere else for a change. However, I came to realize that I didn’t want to be so far away. Therefore, I narrowed down the distance to 4 hours (Penn State being the farthest school). I knew that I wanted to be close enough to home that if anything were to happen my parents were easily accessible. Those 4 hours went down the drain and I ended up going to a school 35 minutes away from home. However, I love it because if I ever want to go home, I can have my parents pick me up and it’s not hard for me to get anything I’ve left in my house.
2. Big Campus or Small Campus
Okay, confession time, I am a small creature. I have been 5 feet since the fourth grade and have not grown a single inch in height. But, height is beside the point and completely irrelevant when choosing a college. I always thought that I wanted to go to a big school. Somewhere like Penn State or UCLA (fun fact, Penn State was one of my dream schools for the longest!). I would dream about having my Jet X from Zoey 101 to take me to my classes and having 30 different cafeteria buildings. However, I came to a point where having all that felt overwhelming. I’m thankful for the size of my current school. Its small enough to get to class within 5 minutes, but big enough to have space for everyone.
3. Dorms or commute
DORM! GIRL, DORM! I did not want to commute AT. ALL. Which is why I did not apply to any City schools or schools that didn’t provide dorms. Dorming was one thing I’ve always wanted to experience. I definitely recommend dorming to anyone who is applying to colleges or is enrolled in college (at least try it for your first semester). This is important when decided what college you want to go to. If you want to dorm, don’t apply to any commuting schools and vice versa.
College students are BROKE! This is no secret whatsoever. And loans, WE DO NOT WANT! I wanted to go to a school that was affordable for myself and my family. If you know that you can’t afford a certain school even after receiving your scholarship and financial aid, then maybe its time to look at a cheaper option.
5. Personal Benefits
My biggest advice to you is to go to a school that will provide you with dozens of opportunities. Make sure your school has any major you’d like to take, any minors, certain clubs, national honor societies, Greek life (if you’re interested in it), internship opportunities, and anything else you’d like to try. This is crucial when looking for colleges because it can either make or break your experience. You don’t want to end up going somewhere that has nothing you’re interested in. And you definitely don’t want to end up in a school that doesn’t have your major (my friends’ sister did this). Therefore, take your time figuring out what you want/like and make sure the colleges you are applying to provide that.
I hope this list helps you as much as it helped me. College is a huge step to take in your life and figuring out the ropes is super hard. However, keep your head held high and shoot for the stars.
Until next time,
Stay vibrant & embrace the gray.
Check out my College Must-Haves list here.