How to Make a College Decision

As they always say, your college experience makes up some of the best years of your life. I like to think that every season of life has best year opportunities, but there is something very true about how formative college is. As an admissions counselor I work with youth on a day to day basis through the college decision process. I know firsthand and professionally just how overwhelming these big life decisions can be and how much value they hold.

If you are a high school student or walking alongside someone who is in the midst of making a college decision, rest assured that this is a slow, but meaningful process. Consider these helpful tips in making a college decision and take it day to day.

Start Early
One of the best ways to be on top of your college search process is to start early. Waiting until the last minute to do visits, apply to colleges, and consider post-graduation options will only hike up the stress levels among an already busy senior year. Start doing research throughout high school, get an idea of what you want, and have a game plan going into senior year.

Make Your List
One of the questions I ask students most is what they are looking for in a college. You would be surprised at the number of blank stares I get. Public versus private school? Big college versus small college? In the region versus across the country? Residential campus versus off campus living? Asking yourself these questions and making a list of what you would like your dream college to look like is a helpful place to start. You likely won't find a college with every box perfectly marked off your checklist, but it will get you thinking of what is most important to you.

Schedule Visits
The most helpful way to determine the previous questions is to schedule campus visits. You can do all the research in the world, but until you step on campus, meet with people in your interest areas, and spend time in the shoes of current students, you are missing out on a crucial aspect of your college decision process. 

Don't simply visit your dream college or where you think you will end up. Schedule visits at a variety of colleges to really discern what you are looking for and where you are meant to be. Living life in a new place is more that just the facts and figures, it is the feeling and trust of belonging to a community that is bigger than yourself and supports your endeavors in these formative years of life. 

Ask Questions
When you visit colleges and talk to college representatives, like myself, they are likely going to have a lot of questions for you. What do you hope to major in? Where are you from? How did you become interested in our college? It can be overwhelming, but they are simply trying to get to know you best and how their college can serve you. Come prepared with questions of your own so you can get the inside scoop and get a better taste of what you want to know.

Seek God
Finally, seeking the Lord in your college decision is the biggest aspect of this process. Spend time reflecting on where God has grown and stretched you in high school and where He is leading you to now. Commit this decision and process to Him in prayer and you will be covered in grace.

What tips do you have for youth in the college decision process?
How did you decide on a college?

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