I wonder if this library has as many foreign language books as mine. Image from Thomas Guignard.

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The other day I told my mom that I was only about one human gestation period away from knowing where I’m going for college, and she told me that she remembered “human gestating” me like it happened yesterday. How, um… endearing?

It is sort of comforting to know that in just a few months I’ll know where I’m going to college. But right now, I’m hardly sure of what my “first choice” college even is. So instead of giving you guys the list of the twenty-ish schools that I’m considering applying too, here’s a list of criteria that I have for each school on that list (well, a shortened list, at least. I’ll try not to bore you with every rule that I have. That just wouldn’t be fair!):

1. Location

I can’t stress this part enough. Most of the schools on my prospective colleges list are in California. Partly because of the in-state tuition, but also because I really do love my home state. We have some top-notch universities, amidst one of the nicest environments in our country. There’s big-city life here, and also wide open spaces that seem to go one forever.

But I certainly prefer the former. The big-city atmosphere of cities like Los Angeles and San Diego is certainly more fitting for me than that of a small farm-town like Monterey. Pretty much all of the schools I’m applying to outside of California are in very large cities, with maybe one or two exceptions. And while I would prefer to go to a college in the city, I certainly wouldn’t be against going to a college in a small city, as long as the school itself were large enough to make me feel like I’m in a big city. Which brings me to my next point.

2. Size

I hate class discussions. They feel awkward and I usually end up clumsily stuttering my way through them and I would just rather not be a part of them. Which is why I really want to go to a school with a lot of other students, where classes are so large that I won’t have to deal with classes based entirely on your level of class participation. And honestly, I think I would be much more comfortable participating in a class of 100 students than one of 30 students. I guess it’s kind of similar to how I love performing on stage in front of 200+ people, but can barely give a speech in front of 10. I wouldn’t mind a small seminar every now and then, but if it were a weekly thing, I think I’d have quite a bit of trouble comfortably maintaining a decent grade.

Plus, more people means more opportunities to make new friends. Now, I’m not an expert, but I’d say that you’d have a much better chance of making friends (and keeping them!) among a group of 5,000 other freshman frantically looking for other people to befriend than among 700 others. But that’s just me.

3. Majors and Minors

This might be the most difficult part for me in choosing my colleges, because the majors I’m interested in aren’t exactly the most common ones. I don’t exactly know what career I want but right now there are two things I’m interested in–teaching English as a foreign language, or working as a journalist with a company like Buzzfeed or Vice (I think a good portion of my summer thus far has been spent watching Buzzfeed videos and Vice documentaries, so that might be why I’m so interested in those two right now). So I would really like to double major in linguistics and journalism, but whenever I find a school that offers one of those, they don’t offer the other. Even the school that I currently consider my first choice offers linguistics but not journalism.

Finding a minor (or minors) might be an even tougher choice for me. One part of me really wants to major in a foreign language, probably Russian or Italian. And I think that’s the most likely and realistic option, since teaching English in a foreign country would (obviously) require a pretty strong grasp on the language of the country I’m teaching in. But since I also kind of want to be involved in the video and film side of journalism, I think a film minor might pair well with a journalism major. But I’m also not too sure of how realistic that is, seeing as I’ve never actually shot a video before (except for a bunch of embarrassing Youtube videos I made in seventh grade, but I’d like to pretend those never happened). Anyway, if I end up at a school that doesn’t offer both linguistics and journalism I may just end up double minoring in film and Russian.

Luckily, these are things I don’t really have to decide until I actually get to college, so that’s somewhat comforting.

So those are the major things I’m looking at in a college. Other things include housing options, financial aid opportunities, meal plans, the size of the foreign language section in their library, and certain study abroad programs. It’s hard to find a college with everything I want, and I’m okay with that. I don’t need to go to a school that will allow me to double major in linguistics and journalism all while having the best cafeteria food ever, low tuition, and a study abroad program in Romania. But I certainly wouldn’t mind going to one.

As of right now, I don’t really have a college list set in stone. I know I’m probably going to apply to 7 of the UC’s and 2 of the CSU’s, but as for private schools, I’m really not sure yet. I’m not too worried for the UC and CSU application processes, since I only have to fill out one application for each system, rather than an application for each individual school (think the Common App, but without any supplements). But it’s the private schools that I’m really worried about. Not only do most of them require additional supplements, but some of them require interviews and all that jazz–and I just don’t know how many of those I can do without crashing and burning during the fall semester. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

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