During spring break of my junior year I began touring colleges. Nineteen college tours later, I still have no idea what school I want to attend this fall. Upon each college tour, a part of me hopes that I will discover my dream school. From Cal Poly SLO last spring to the University of Oregon last week, not a single college that I have experienced has been a “perfect” match for me. While I have enjoyed almost all of my college visits, I have also left each one unsatisfied. This dissatisfaction, however, is a function of my false hopes, not shortcomings in the colleges.
The truth is that perfect-match colleges are non-existent. There are too many different aspects of college for one to be able to find a flawless combination.
The same theory can be applied to relationships. As Mr. Blair teaches all of his students during the month of February, “None of you will ever find true love.” Of course, Blair is not saying this in a derogatory way, he is simply stating that the chances that any of his students have a perfect match out there is miniscule and if they do have a perfect match the chance that they will meet this person is next to none. Just like human-human relationships, human-college relationships have a very small chance of being perfect.
A common mistake that high school students often make in the college search is they expect that the perfect college will find them. It’s almost as if they are expecting to have an epiphany or enlightening dream. The trick to finding the best college match is to identify the qualities that you are looking for in a college, and evaluate colleges based on your preferences in those areas.
For instance, athletic facilities are a very important factor to me when it comes to colleges. I absolutely need a place to play basketball and hit the weights every once in awhile. The food needs to be good enough that I won’t get bored of it after a month and end up using the local grocery store more than the school cafeteria. The outgoingness of students on campus is also very important to me. Other decision changers for many people are the library, dorms, and opportunities offered in their major.
Here is a list of factors that you might want to look at when it comes to the college search:
-Strongest majors/majors the school is known for
-Cafeterias/Quality of Food
-Surrounding Area (urban, suburban, rural)
-Student Life (energetic, studious, laid back, uptight)
-Size of Student Body
-Attitude/Happiness of students
As you might’ve noticed, I did not include “the feeling you get” when you’re at the college. Many people will say that they picked a college because it just felt right for them or they just sensed that it was the right place for them. These people are not wrong, they just lack the connection to the good vibes they feel of the qualities of the school. Although they might like to think otherwise, their “spidey-senses” were not tingling during their visit.
For many high school students, especially juniors, the college hunt is beginning. Instead of waiting for the right college to find high schoolers, it is vital that they actively pursue the right school for themselves. The most effective way to find the right college is to pinpoint the characteristics in schools that appeal to you and evaluate each college based on those qualities.