There have been plenty of articles written about why you should add a school to your list; however, what is less often touched on is why you shouldn’t cross a school off. Time and time again, I will be talking to high school seniors who stumble over the question of why they decided to reject an admissions offer from a school or decided not to apply at all. Of course, it is fine to take a school out of the running if it isn’t right for you, but, before you do, make sure you are doing it for the right reasons.
1. Friends’ opinions.
Teenagers put way too much stock into the opinions of their fellow classmates, and this can often play a big role when it comes to college decisions. Personally, I remember a time where I was talking about my choices with a friend and she said, “I honestly can’t picture you at either of those schools,” and it was the single most infuriating thing I had heard during my entire college process. Almost a year later, I am attending one of those schools and it was the best decision I have ever made. If I had listened to the opinion of that one friend, my life could be much different right now. When it comes down to it, even if friends mean well, what is right for them isn’t the same thing that is right for you. Only you can decide how you feel about a school.
2. Parents’ opinions.
This is a bit trickier, since they are often the ones footing some, if not all, of the tuition bills. While it is often hard to stand up to your parents when it comes to you wanting to go to a school they might not necessarily be a fan of, it is also important to remind them that college is a huge investment and if you aren’t at the right school, it could become a wasted one.
It is often easy to say that the highest ranking school that accepts you is the one that you should attend. However, just because a school is supposed to be the best, doesn’t mean that it is necessarily the right fit for you. One student I had the opportunity to speak to told me that while he was honored to receive an admissions offer from Harvard, he had to decline because of how uncomfortable and out-of-place he felt when he actually toured the school. Furthermore, while rankings aren’t completely useless, they are definitely not the end-all be-all in the quality of education you are going to receive. Before you knock off any lower ranked schools, make sure you know what you are closing the door to.
4. Nobody from your school goes there.
It is natural to be nervous about the thought of going to a school where you don’t know a single person, but this can also be an amazing opportunity because it forces you to get outside of the group of people you most likely have known since you were a little kid. Also, thanks to modern technology, your old friends are only a text, phone call, or Skype call away if you need them, so don’t be afraid.
5. Everybody from your school goes there.
The flip side of going to a school where you know nobody, is going to one where it feels like high school never ended. Growing up in Virginia, a significant portion of my friends ended up going to both JMU and VT, but that doesn’t mean that they haven’t branched out and met a new group of people. One of these friends told me that the most important thing for her was joining a sorority and getting involved in other activities, which allowed her to still see her old friends but still meet a whole new group of people as well. If everyone at your high school seems to attend the same set of schools, it’s okay if you go there, too, if it’s the right fit for you.
It isn’t easy finding the school that is perfect for you. Even as a (very happy) college freshman, there are still things that can irritate me about the one I chose. However, it is really important to remember to keep an open mind about all of the schools on your list; you might be surprised by what you find.