How a high school student narrowed her list of potential colleges
The summer before the final year is when the questions started: which colleges are you considering? Have you already written your essay? Are you going to stay in the state or are you planning to move across the country?
College was the only thing anyone wanted to talk to me about. Parents, teachers, friends, even the naval officer who called me during dinner had only one topic of conversation in mind: where I wanted to spend the next four years of my life.
These questions were difficult to answer. I stumbled over my words and interrupted my thoughts with ahs and umms. I didn’t know where I wanted to go and none of my answers were ever the same.
With Ivy League schools dotting the east coast and some of the best public universities in the south, I have more than enough options to choose where the next chapter of my education will reside.
I had never been the type of student to fall in love with a particular university and devote all my resources to getting into it, as I know my chances of being accepted into a favorite university with a workable financial plan are thin.
Instead, I spent most of my summer taking online quizzes and browsing college ranking sites for universities that checked my “bare minimum boxes.” From there I ended up with a list of about 10 colleges that I would love to attend, but I had only visited two.
When selecting colleges, I found that making a list of my priorities helped me a lot in deciding where to apply. For me, location and cost were at the top of this list. When searching for colleges, I would filter by these parameters.
With all of my colleges on the East Coast, I have no doubts that wherever I go, I will feel right at home. The cost was a bit more difficult to estimate, as most private colleges seem to be inherently devious in the way they determine their financial packages.
To overcome this problem, I chose to apply to a majority of public schools and private schools that offered substantial amounts in merit scholarships.
With the pandemic shutting down most public buildings, scheduling visits to the university has been a bit difficult to manage. Some colleges offer self-guided tours, others are fully operational, and some only allow potential students to see their campus virtually.
Since my list of university visits ranged from Massachusetts to Florida, I made the decision to suspend campus visits until I was accepted (or rejected) by the university.
Now that I am preparing to submit my applications, I believe that the way I chose to handle college selection did not hamper my application process. Even though I haven’t been able to physically visit any campus this summer, I feel like I gained the same information as other students just by attending the virtual briefings and administrator tours organized by my high school. .
Although this process has been extremely overwhelming, I am delighted to see where the culmination of the last 12 years of my life will take me.
It is difficult to understand that in just a few months I will be getting my room ready for another location; I don’t know yet if these boxes will be full of winter jackets or sandals.
Alex Miller is in his final year of Central Bucks High School West in Doylestown, PA. This is his third year on the Teen Takes panel.