As a high school student, you build your resume with the right classes and extracurriculars to ensure acceptance into the college of your dreams.
But as college becomes more of a reality, you start to wonder, “Am I making the right choice by applying to these schools?”
The answer may surprise you because what’s right for your closest peers may not be right for you. Dig deep and really focus on what characteristics of a college best suit you. Moreover, explore your interests and consider unlikely majors. When you factor in your ideal career path, best possible learning environment, and financial aid, the answer may become very clear.
Self-Acceptance Is Key To Choosing The Right College For You
You may feel pressure from friends, peers, or family to attend a specific college. Maybe there’s a legacy you grew up planning to join. Or a football team you’ve been cheering for since you were in diapers.
Despite where you’ve always believed your allegiances lie, choosing the right college goes much deeper than legacies and football teams. You are an amazing, unique individual with a long life ahead of you.
How To Apply To The Right College For You
Push societal pressures aside and find out which colleges truly fit your needs. Because just as no two people are the same, no one college is right for everyone.
1. Prepare For Persistence & Hard Work To Survive As A Student
With these facts in mind, it’s important to stay focused on your task at hand – which is being a college student. If, as a high school student, these numbers are concerning, then practice persevering at something. Join a club, sports team, or consistently volunteer your time.
Just like exercise builds strength, practicing perseverance builds that muscle, too. Moreover, set a healthy schedule and stick to it. Of course, breaks are necessary for your well-being and to prevent burnout. But that doesn’t mean you should fall into the party lifestyle that movies portray as normal college life.
Does the idea of applying and attending college seem so far off that you don’t need to think about it yet? Here’s an insider tip – the earlier you start, the better results you will have. Contact Bright Futures today to find out how we can help you start preparing for the college admissions process now.
2. Major In Something That Will Lead To A Career
If you like to sing, by all means, sing your heart out. It’s a fantastic way to keep your creative juices flowing and relieve stress.
But before you major in singing, really consider what careers will be available to you after college. Plenty of people become successful singers, but more often, the dream is cut short. So unless you’re ok being a music teacher if a singing career doesn’t pay the bills, major in something else.
Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) majors are popular because they lead to higher pay on average. However, not everyone is wired for STEM, and that is OK!
Think outside the box and explore unconventional college majors that may be the perfect fit for you. Even better, the Birkman Assessment helps people, like yourself, understand their strengths, behaviors, interests, and goals. This process can help you identify the best opportunities for your unique self. Plus, the Birkman will continue to be helpful as you get older and explore careers and relationships.
3. Match Yourself To A College That Is A Good Fit For You
Some students love to read, and others like to write. I may love strawberries and hate bananas, and you may be the opposite. No two people are the same!
This is extremely important to realize when exploring which colleges to apply to. Some students do well at large colleges, while others thrive at smaller ones. A liberal arts college may better suit you, and your best friend’s best option may be a technical one.
If you desire to follow a vocation or major, then research the colleges that offer those programs. Moreover, make sure the school’s culture suits you. And, don’t blow off 2-year colleges either. There are 2-year degrees that lead to rewarding vocations at a far lower cost.
The Birkman Assessment can help you identify the college environments in which you will most likely thrive. Contact us today to start working towards your bright future.
4. Don’t Attend A College Just Because It’s Prestigious & Expensive
Would you be willing to spend $265,000 to attend Harvard? While many people may jump at the opportunity, there are many, many others who wouldn’t consider it even if they got in.
This is because Harvard might not add that much extra income to your lifetime earnings over a less prestigious but still great college. And you’d be spending $100,00 total or far less.
Studies show that who you are, your character, and your abilities are much greater predictors of success than where you attend college. And graduating from a good (not necessarily prestigious or most expensive) college with the right major can add from $500,000 to over $1 million to one’s lifetime income.
All this to say, don’t make choices based on prestige. Make the right decisions for yourself because otherwise, you could end up unemployed, underemployed, underappreciated, and/or deep in debt.
Your best bet to succeed in and after college is to find a mentor, study group, and favored professor to help keep your goals aligned.
5. Research Scholarships & Need-Based Financial Aid
Forty years ago, someone could earn their bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the best public university around for less than today’s cost of one semester at UT or A&M. The costs of attending college have skyrocketed.
If you are a top SAT or ACT student, applying to slightly less prestigious colleges will likely yield more scholarship aid. Knowing how to position your family’s finances can save tens of thousands of dollars.
We had one student whose absentee father suggested he attend community college because he wasn’t going to give him any money. Little did this parent know, their student was (and continues to be) amazing. Because of his resume, test scores, and overall hard work, he received a full scholarship to one of the most elite colleges in the country. In this situation, this student would have actually paid more to attend his local community college.
So speak to your family (or those you know who can support you regarding finances) and start researching scholarships and need-based financial aid. And when the offers come through, keep in mind that you can negotiate your financial aid offer! If you need extra help figuring all this out, reach out to Bright Futures for a complimentary consultation.
Start Working Towards Your Bright Future Today
Bright Futures’ college counselors are devoted to helping individuals realize their passions and potential in a holistic manner with expert guidance, compassionate mentoring, and comprehensive services.
When it comes to helping students prepare for the college admissions process, we take our role very seriously. From exploring overlooked interests to writing an eyebrow-raising essay, our services are tailored to help each client and their families succeed to their fullest potential.
Note: This post was originally published on June 25, 2015 and has been completely revamped for comprehensiveness.