1. Location (and proximity) matters.
When searching for colleges, I narrowed down my wish list to several schools located near New York City. But truth be told, I’m not much of a city girl; I yearned for a school with a scenic backdrop, open spaces, and an environment that I would feel most comfortable in. I needed a school that had public transportation to nearby cities, but also a place to park my car. I had always loved the city, but I didn’t want to live in it. Whether you’re looking for a school in an urban, rural, or suburban atmosphere, your choices are endless. Find the balance that feels right to you.
2. Look beyond the Admissions Office.
While I was probably more focused on the student life aspects, I knew I had to find a school with the right academic program for me. Each time I visited a school, I not only wanted to meet with admissions counselors, but also with academic advisors and professors. I knew I did not want to be just another face in a lecture crowd of 200 people; I needed a classroom environment with somewhat small class-sizes and professors who knew me. I took advantage of the time professors and faculty offered during visiting sessions, which helped immensely in narrowing down my college choices.
3. Your four years at college will not all be spent inside the classroom.
Since much of my time at college would not spent in the classroom, it was important to me that I find a college that would allow me to have and enjoy a social life. Whether you’re interested in attending a school football game, joining lots of clubs, getting a campus job, or attending an academic lecture, be sure that the college you choose provides you with opportunities to pursue what you are most interested in and passionate about.
4. There are no bad questions.
“When do you have to declare a major?” | “How does housing selection work?” | “What if I get sick at school?” | “Are there on-campus laundry services?” | “Are there options for food other than the dining hall?” | “How do you make friends in college?” | “What’s an Advisor?” | “Can I study abroad?”
Truly, there are no bad questions when going through your college search. Bombard your tour guide with all the questions you have rattling around in the back of your head – they’re thrilled to answer your most pressing questions and your most quiet curiosities about college. Current students are your biggest allies in the college search. They’ll give you a candid account of what they love most, what they think could use improvement, and what made them choose their school. If you want to see it all for yourself, try out the dining hall, sit in on a class, or shadow a current student at each of the schools on your short-list.
5. Don’t procrastinate on your applications.
Of all the things I learned during my college search process, perhaps the most significant is the importance of not just submitting my applications on time, but submitting them early. To show my interest in the school, I applied early and had all my applications in well before their deadlines. I remember the moment my parents and I sighed a collective sound of relief, knowing the stress and uncertainty of the college application process was behind us. I had the rest of my senior year to enjoy the feeling of sitting back, relaxing, and waiting for the (hopefully positive) decision letters.
At the end of my college search, Marist College proved to have everything I needed and wanted in a college. As you may know, the February 1st application deadline is fast approaching! Regardless of where you choose to go, I hope these bits of advice can help you find your way to the college that’s perfect for you.