Whether you’ve just been waitlisted, rejected or accepted—or are just starting the college application process—fear not. We’ve got great advice from two college freshmen who have lived through the process and will clue you in to making college work for you—no matter the school at which you end up.
For stories from current college students on their adaptation to changes in their college plans, check out Chai Wire: Rejected?! located at the end of this article.
by Kalid Foxman
“One of the biggest contributors to our stressing over the application process is pressure from others to go to a specific school. To avoid this stress, think about this: This is about you, not them. Choose your school because you feel that it’s right for you, not because other people tell you to go there.” —Harrison Hess, 18
“Choosing a college means choosing your life for the next four years. Don’t do it in a stressful environment. Have someone—a parent, friend, counselor—who can listen to you sort out what you feel about each college, and then step back and decide where you’ll be happy. Make a list of pros and cons for your colleges and see what balances out what. It’s impossible to pick a college without a little anxiety, but don’t be afraid to take a leap of faith. It may be the best decision you’ll ever make.” —Lily Nagy-Deak, 18
Look beyond the name.
“While parents and friends give great advice and are excellent resources, remember that you need to find the college that will give you what you want. Even if you know your desired major now, make sure your college has other options in case you change your mind later. Also, talk to students who don’t work for admissions; try to get a clear picture of what your life at each college would be like with candid opinions. Don’t be afraid to take rooming, food and campus life into account; these will be a part of your life during college and should at least be considered. While certain college names come with good reputations, you can still have an amazing time and accomplish amazing things at a less well-known college.” —Lily
“One extremely important thing about looking at colleges is making sure it’s the right fit. It’s like when you go to buy a new pair of jeans; you want to pick the one that fits you best, not necessarily the one with the best brand name.” —Harrison
What it’s really all about.
“The college experience is what you make it. From the minute you start, you make the decisions. You decide for yourself what clubs or Greek houses you want to join, what parties you want to go to and what classes you want to take. These decisions will be yours to make, and they define what kind of experience you’re going to have.” —Harrison
“College is about balance: balancing studying and extracurriculars, classes and sleeping, academics
and social life. It seems overwhelming at first, but once you achieve the proper balance, your college
experience becomes incredible.” —Lily
Take advantage of your surroundings.
“The important thing is to find a niche where you’re comfortable being yourself. Don’t change yourself just because it takes awhile to find others who share your thoughts and passions. Attend various events and see what kinds of people you enjoy spending time with. If you already know people at the school, maintain your bonds and friendships, but also make new friends. Don’t be afraid to take a small step outside your comfort zone.” —Lily
“My favorite tip is to take advantage of the opportunities the school provides. When you see something that interests you, look into it. You may just end up having the greatest time of your life.” —Harrison
Try something new.
“I cannot stress this enough: take chances! Join clubs. Take crazy classes. They’re all learning experiences and can make college some of the happiest years of your life.” —Harrison
If you’re really unhappy, consider your options.
“If you really, really don’t like the school, ask yourself why. If it’s something you can affect, do what’s in your power to change it. Don’t write off the whole school because you have a lousy roommate; request a room change. If the food is intolerable, see if you can have a kitchen next year. But if the college isn’t providing you with the intellectual or social environment you want, a large number of students transfer; it’s not uncommon or looked down on. Remember: You’re paying them, so make sure you get what you’re worth.” —Lily
“Although transferring schools is an option, it’s never a fun one. Try your hardest to keep an open mind. I have always found that the best things in life come along when you take risks and do things you might not normally do.” —Harrison
For stories from current college students on their adaptation to changes in their college plans, check out Chai Wire:Rejected?!
This article is reprinted with permission from JVibe Magazine.