We are living in the golden age of technology and information. But with so much information it can be difficult to narrow down the list of colleges you are applying to. No college is going to be perfect for everyone, but there are ways to evaluate if a college is the right one for you.
What Do I Want?
Asking yourself what you want in a college is the first step, and the most difficult. Make a list of college must-haves and find schools that meet most of your criteria, but remain open to changing the list. You also need to have a clear reason why you want each item on the list. For me, I knew I wanted a small liberal arts school because I’m not a super social person and a large student body would have been too overwhelming. I also wanted to study a wide range of subjects, not just within my major, which made a liberal arts school a perfect fit.
I wanted a school where I could study film production, Japanese language, and or art history but I wasn’t sure which I would want to major in. While this doesn’t sound like a lot of requirements, it limited the number of colleges I could consider. My list of potential colleges grew as I considered the benefits of other programs. Being flexible and open to different schools did make my decision more difficult, but it also helped me realize what really mattered to me and why.
Who Am I?
It is a truth universally acknowledged that high school is hard. It can be difficult to know and express who you really are, which makes it even more of a challenge to make big life decisions like picking a college. When I was in high school, I felt a lot of pressure from different people in my life. While I know that everyone was really just trying to help me, it was hard to navigate all the conflicting advice I received and I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. Don’t give in to the pressure from peers and adults. Go to the college that is right for you, not the one that is right for others’ perceptions of you. Ultimately, I had to really reflect on what I wanted and needed from a college.
I remember many people at my high school didn’t know what Oberlin was and most students seemed to go to the same few colleges every year. I nearly picked a different school, but sincerely doubt I would have been as happy there as I have been with Oberlin.
For those of you in a similar situation, all I can say is that five years later, the people who didn’t just support my choice but who celebrated Oberlin with me have remained my closest friends. When you pick a college, you really evaluate why. Be sure it’s right for you and will help you on your path to becoming the person you want to be next. There were many factual reasons for me to pick Oberlin, but in the end, what mattered most was the feeling deep down that this was the school for me.
As an admissions counselor and former Early Decision applicant, I hope you love Oberlin as much as I do! Our ED application deadlines are coming up on November 15 and January 2. I look forward to reading your applications!