As much as I hate to admit it, I am not Rory Gilmore. She is, after all, a fictional character. Yet what has led so many of us to identify with Miss Gilmore? We all envy her for different reasons, be it her ability to consume copious amounts of food, or her talent at becoming completely absorbed in a novel.
I personally envy Rory Gilmore because she had some semblance of an idea of what she wanted to do with her life. She always wanted to be a journalist, just like Christiane Amanpour. She always wanted to go to Harvard (and although she ended up attending Yale, I think it’s a pretty close comparison). Rory Gilmore knew what she wanted and I am extremely jealous of her. Rory’s college search seems simple in comparison to those that us mere human beings are forced to go through. When I was researching schools, I realized that there were so many options out there and found myself completely overwhelmed by all of the possibilities. Options are a wonderful thing–except for when you’re incredibly indecisive (*cough ME cough*). Then it’s just a pain. I found myself entering senior year without having visited any schools. But this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. I made it work to my advantage, and you can too.
Decide what type of school you want
Figuring out what kind of school I wanted to attend took me a long time. Big school vs. small school, liberal arts college vs. research university, close to home vs. far away from home, the possibilities are endless. Everyone matures a little bit more as time goes on. What’s to say that what you want when you’re 15 is the same as what you want when you’re 18? It doesn’t hurt to explore your options, but you have to keep in mind that you might be a different person in a few years, who wants different things. It might be to your benefit to wait, in order to figure out what you want. But that doesn’t mean that you should wait until the last moment to think about what your preferences are–the more time you have to ponder your decisions, the better.
After I decided what type of school I wanted (small liberal arts college in the Northwest), I started looking into all of the schools that fit this description. I looked at the websites, read brochures, did everything I could do to get a feel for the schools without actually visiting them. I was able to narrow it down to six schools. Of these six schools, five offered an early action plan. My life very quickly became about college applications; I needed to meet the early action deadline. I loved applying early, because that meant I got my acceptance letters early (My first one was in November!). While my friends were still struggling along with writing their college essays, I already knew that I did indeed have a future. Schools wanted me! Yes!
Out of the six schools I ended up applying to, I only visited one prior to the spring of my senior year. Most of my senior year spring break was spent visiting the rest of my schools. This ended up working perfectly well for me. All of my schools were within driving distance yet required a planned visit as most were about a 4-5 hour drive away. By waiting until the spring, I knew which schools I had been accepted to and had more time to reflect on what else I wanted from my school. At this point, it ultimately came down to the campus feel. Was it too in the city or not close enough to the city? Did I like the campus layout? Did I feel comfortable? Another perk of waiting until senior year is that you’ll get priority for overnight visits, which in my opinion, are an absolute must. By the time I finished my college visits, I was deciding between two really great schools. Once I received financial aid information, I was able to pick which school would work best for me. Voila! I was finished.
I remember people telling me that I was crazy for waiting so long to visit my schools. I completely understand their sentiment but for some people, it just works better to postpone college visits. Ultimately, each person’s journey to his or her college is going to be different. But if you arrive at senior year without having visited colleges, be it purposefully, or from procrastination, never fear. It is most definitely not the end of the world. With some careful planning, you’ll be on track in no time!