As the first person in my direct family to go to college, there were plenty of times in my life that I doubted it was possible. Despite being an honors student since kindergarten and being the type of student who never wanted to miss a day of school, I sometimes found myself thinking that college was a little out of my league. Although I was always supported to go to school and become something great like a doctor or a lawyer, there were always slightly snarky comments from my parents about the cost of higher education being a “rip-off” as my college journey became near. All comments and doubts aside, I was sure that college was exactly where I wanted to be after high school. I knew it was the first step to a better education and a better career, and I knew it was a journey I didn’t want to miss out on.
I considered a few schools, but the whole time I knew which one I wanted to be at deep down. The first time I was introduced to my current school, Florida Southern College, was at a career fair in tenth grade. We started out walking table to table chatting to each admissions representative and collecting pamphlets and free pens, and then each school had a presentation at the end. The advisor from FSC went up somewhere in the middle of all of the presentations. She was young, bubbly, and just welcoming. Her presentation caught my attention more than any other one because she wasn’t throwing out facts about the school like the others, but instead sharing her story of graduating from my school and what she truly loved about it.
There was something so welcoming about her presentation that I couldn’t help but jot the name down to remember. For the next year and a half, I spent a little too much time researching all the information about the school, getting excited every time another FSC post card arrived in my mail box, and counting down the days until I could finally take a campus tour. After emailing the admissions representative, she quickly answered all of my questions and even added me on Facebook. She was and still is always there to answer a question or to check in on how I am doing in school. It was really nice to have someone who could help me fill out my application, show me the steps for financial aid, and help me set up tours for both of my parents.
Florida Southern was actually the last campus tour that I took. Although my dad, who tagged along through them all, particularly liked one of the big Florida universities, I deep down was waiting for my trip to Florida Southern. My campus tour turned out to be so enjoyable. The tour guides were friendly and knowledgeable and were sincerely in love with the FSC campus. The campus has won “Most Beautiful Campus” multiple years in a row, and I really saw why. The view from anywhere on campus was gorgeous and the buildings were full of history. It was also great to walk around the campus while classes were in session and get a feel of the atmosphere on campus. Florida Southern has a small student body of under 2,000 students. We all live on campus besides two school-owned apartment complexes less than a mile off of campus. From almost anywhere on campus you have a lake view and the sight of many famous buildings. Professors and students know each other very well, often by first name.
Almost two years later I still love FSC. My college choice may not be the perfect fit for you, but I do have a few recommendations and sure-tell signs to choose the right school for you:
1. Make sure you feel welcome. Odds are, if your tour guide, the students you come in contact with, and the admissions team make you feel welcome, then you are. Make sure the people telling you about the school are not sales professionals and are actual students and alumni of the school.
2. Talk to people who go or have gone there. I was lucky enough to become very close to the admissions counselor and my AP English teacher, both alumni of FSC. Talking to people who have experienced the school can really give you an accurate feel on if the college is the right choice for you.
3. Take every opportunity you have to personally experience it. I went on two college tours to FSC as well as went to Scholars Weekend and Advising Day, two days where prospective students can spend the day on campus. All of these opportunities reminded me that the school I was interested in was a great fit for me.
Enjoy finding the school for you! You have so many options in front of you that can all lead you to great opportunities, so don’t get too anxious about which school is the right one, and just have fun finding one that you can fall in love with. Good luck!