The college process, what is really important?

Once a student hits junior year, their life is altered by a major new development: they start receiving mail. All of a sudden, the pile of letter for the student becomes taller than the pile for his/her parents. Luckily for the student, this isn’t mail that is asking for bill payments or surveys, it is college mail.

If the student is anything like me, he/she will be ambushed and overwhelmed by the flood of information that rushes from the mailbox. This university requires such and such an ACT score. That university only accepts this many of it it’s applicants. One university has nine libraries. The information never stops.

And so begins one of the most painful processes known to teen- harder than getting a job, harder than getting a prom date, and certainly harder than choosing what to eat in the cafeteria. The college application process comes with obvious steps such as applying, however the gray area has grown larger and larger with each generation.

There are thousands of question students have to face when looking for the right college, regarding financing, majors, study abroad, student life, and athletics. However there is one question that trumps all others: what will make me happy? This question has carried too little weight, in my opinion.

Instead of choosing a major that will end in a high paying job, major in what you enjoy and what you will be able to successfully do for the rest of your life. Instead of going to your parents’ alma mater, go where YOU want to go. And instead of letting lack of funds keep you from your dream school, develop a financial aid plan to accomplish what will make you happy.

Between the admissions essays, informational brochures, and campus visits, I think students lose sight of what is important. Students, including myself, need to remember that twenty years from now when we are looking back on our college years, we are not going to recall the student-to-faculty ratio. We will remember the relationships we form and the experiences we have.

So instead of freaking out about all the mail, visits, essays, and requirements, I have decided to think about what will make ME happiest. And this change in mindset has allowed me to cross off a couple more schools from my list. While this is only a small step in a big journey, it is progress nonetheless. And really, when we are talking about the best four years of our lives, any step to get there is more than worth it.