Written By Charles, Test Prep Guru for Enhanced Prep
It’s that time of year: college application season. Many students have already received word from universities they’ve applied to Early Decision / Early Action; still others are wrapping up their applications for the Regular Application pool. This can be a time fraught with anxiety, and not just for students awaiting word from colleges. There is quite a lot of pressure for students to select colleges that are the “schools of their dreams” or, at the very least, “a good fit.”
But what does this really mean? Most importantly, how can students choose the college that best suits them? I found one piece of advice offered by a peer that concerned helping students choose the university they would attend especially thoughtful and forward-thinking.
She recommended asking students to consider what they thought of when they envisioned college—where they wanted to be, what things they wanted to be surrounded by. She asked them to determine what would make them happiest in a natural outdoor setting: the climate, the topography, the inherent recreational activities.
Do you want to be near mountains? A forest? A big city? Do you like snow, or would you rather be able to go the beach on any given day? Do you like to cycle, hike, or kayak? Would you like to be able to take a subway to every part of the surrounding area?
She asked them to describe what they imagined the buildings of a great university should look like and what that appearance would mean to them and their daily experience of the college. Do you want to be surrounded by old architecture with creeping ivy, reminiscent of a past time, or would you be invigorated by modern architecture that makes you feel a part of the wave of the future?
Literally having students close their eyes and come up with an image and then describe it, she honed in on what the students imagined their ideal college would look and feel like, not just the name of the school and the subject to be studied.
These considerations were honestly nothing I had ever challenged a student to consider, but, after hearing this from my colleague, I think it is a wonderful exercise in the process of helping a student select the most suitable university for him or her. After all, college is a place most students will spend at least four very formative, intense, and rewarding years of their live—environment does matter!
So, I challenge the readers of this article to close their eyes and imagine the university outside of the classroom and beyond academic statistics. Where do you see yourself? What do you want your daily college experience to look and feel like? What environment excites you the most as a scholar?
Feel free to write down what you visualize, and then let these details guide the development and (ultimately) formation of your college list.