Choosing Your Destiny: (!!!!)

Choosing colleges... anyone have a GPS?

Hey pre-froshies!

It’s the home stretch for you guys–senior year is coming to a close, and you’re making that big choice: the college choice.

If you’re like I was, that choice probably means hyperventilating, making poster-sized pros/cons lists, and buying a t-shirt from all your choices to see what “feels best.” However… I can assure you that none of those things–as genius as they sound–are helpful in the decision process.

So what is helpful? Glad you asked. *cough*
Here is my handy-dandy Guide for Choosing Your College

1. Visit. Visit. Visit. And I don’t mean sitting-in on classes or attending an admissions-guided tour. No, all that studious stuff was what you did before your senior spring started. Now it’s time to get on campus and chill with some current students. Seriously. Chill with them. How do you find these prospective students? Simple: you email them. If you encountered any students on tours, admitted students days, or in admissions-outreach, just email one and say “Hey! I’d really like to visit your school. Do you know of anyone who would be willing to tour me around campus?” Most likely, that student is really excited about their college and would be more than happy to show you their home. So just ask and see what happens. When you’re on that tour, use the time to chill. Sit in the student center, eat in the dining hall, do what students do, and watch the people around you. College will be not only your school but your home for four years. You will spend more time outside of class than in class. Make sure you find a good fit for your social needs, study needs, and chillaxing needs. (Yes, you will have time to chillax in college… during not-midterms weeks.)

2. Email. If you can’t make it to your college to visit in person, email those same students to ask questions! And no… I don’t mean “What do you think about the premed track at your school?” Chances are, you’ve already asked that or you already know it. At this point in the game, questions like “What was it like making the transition from high school to college?” and “How did you meet your current friends?” will provide you with some valuable information on fit.

3. Creep. That’s right, creep. Facebook-stalk the school’s pages. Lurk around Check out pages for your colleges. Hoard student newspapers. You are Generation-Y: you have access to technology that your parents didn’t have, that your teachers didn’t have. Use it! You can get an inside look at your colleges from the students’ perspective without even leaving your bedroom.

4. Network. Do your parents know any alums from your colleges? Do you have teachers at school who attended your school for undergrad? Ask around to find out. Although adult alums would have attended college at a very different time than you, they probably know a lot about their school and what it’s like to be a student. They also probably know what sort of changes–if any–the school has gone through since their graduation. These people might have new information for you that can help you out.

5. Pretend. If worse comes to worse, and you have only a few days left and are still totally confused, arbitrarily pick one of your options and pretend you chose it. Sit with your fake decision for a day or two. Then try the same thing with another option. What was it like, knowing you “made” each one of those decisions? Did one decision feel harder to make than another? Did one leave you with regret? Did one leave you relieved? Trust your gut, sometimes it knows what’s best for you. My personal decision came down to this…turns out my gut was smarter than I was! In a matter of hours it had made a decision that I had been agonizing over for months.


Okay… so you’ve read what you should do. Now here’s what you shouldn’t do.
Here is my Anti-Guide for Choosing Your College.


1. Give up. Don’t give up and put your decision in the hands of someone else. Even if you feel “indifferent” to both choices, do not let someone else sway you. Your indifference is likely just anxiety. Every college is different, even if only slightly, so it’s impossible to be 100% indifferent. Don’t let the lack of enthusiasm stop you dead in your tracks. Keep searching for information and keep considering your options. And if you can find something you like more about one college or the other, hold on to that, no matter how silly it is.

2. Listen. I encourage you to talk to as many people as possible to get information about your schools. However, the second they start giving you their opinion, I encourage you to stop listening. This decision should be entirely between you and your parents. Not your teachers, not your friends, not anyone you met along the college process. This decision is yours, and other people won’t always know what’s best. What’s important is that you appreciate your decision and can be satisfied with it, not that other people will understand it. I know this from personal experience: everyone told me to make one decision, but I made the opposite. I’ve since been able to explain myself to the people around me, but there are always a few people who think I’m totally insane. But you know what? I am completely  satisfied with my decision, and would not have made the opposite choice if I had to do so again. I’m glad I listened to myself and not to my friends or obnoxious adults offering me their “two cents.”

3. Fall in love on a college visit. If you are truly confused before visiting your colleges, and then you visit one and fall in love, do NOT knock the other college off the table without visiting it too. Give your options a fair shot. If there’s even a slight chance that visiting your other options will change your mind, you must do it. And in the end, if you happen to choose that first college, the only thing you wasted was a little time. And it’s your senior spring, so who really cares about that anyway, right?


So those are my tips. Of course, the irony here is that I could potentially be one of those obnoxious souls giving you her “two cents.” I’m not saying you will or even should choose Brandeis (although that would be awesome). Just give all your top options a good look before you make your choice. In the end, you will probably be really proud of all the thought you put into this important decision.