Setting the Right Tone
If you are in high school and reading this article then there is a pretty good chance that college applications and college in general has been on your mind. There is also a pretty good possibility that you have talked about college with friends and family members. There might have been jokes or lengthy discussions about college applications and the pluses and minuses of different schools. In many communities, families and schools, kids begin talking and thinking about college (or preparing for ACT/SAT’s) from early on in grade school.
So we want to ask you, how is all this college focused talk and thinking making you feel? If you are like most of the young people we know, there is a lot of stress and worry connected to this whole college thing. We want to tell you that the decision about whether or not to go to college is important for your life, and studying hard and learning a lot are also really important. BUT, you really don’t need to be so stressed and worried. The fact is that there are lots of really great schools at which you can get an excellent education and that will put you on a good path forward in your life. And lots of the worry and stress is probably about issues that are not nearly as important as you and your friends might think.
How the college you eventually attend is ranked in the US News and World Report or other ratings will have less to do with how you do while studying there and in your life than your experiences in school: what you learn and the intellectual and life skills you acquire. And how you feel in college and what the experience is like for you will make a big impact on whether you graduate.
What is really important is to go to a college that fits with your personal, social and emotional needs along with your educational goals. So a first major step in preparing for the whole college selection thing is to think about yourself: your interests and career goals, your personal preferences, your expectations about your social life. This will help you focus your search and keep your priorities clear.
So as you start the college application and selection journey, take a deep breath-colleges are pretty good at selecting students who will handle the work and there are many schools that can be great places for you to learn and grow. If you approach this with a focus on what the college provides and what you want and need in really realistic ways, this process will go well for you and there will be much less stress and worry.