Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Narrowing the College Search Down...

Happy Tuesday everyone!!

Hope everyone is having a wonderful start to their day. As usual on a Tuesday morning, I am in my favorite library cubicle getting some work and studying done for the next couple of days. This morning, Marci and I went to go pick up our Macklemore tickets for this year's Spring Concert and we  could not be more excited!!

I've also wanted to let you guys know that I'll be going back to my original every Tuesday blogging!! I was talking to my friend, Rynne, the other day about how when she was an incoming first year, every Tuesday she would make sure to check my blog because that always seemed to be the day I updated. I personally loved doing that schedule, so my wonderful readers, keep checking back every Tuesday for new blogs yay!!

Yesterday, my friend, Eric, who is Academic Preview day/ Phone-a-thon coordinator of Founders Society (and also made it possible with my friend, Cait, to bring Macklemore to SMC) asked me to be on a Prospective Student panel. I was really excited about it, because it was actually the Academic Preview Day which solidified my decision to come to SMC. It was great hearing not only from the Class of 2017, but from current students on the panel with me (shout out to Anna, Shelby, Brian, and Alex!!) and all of our different points of view sharing the common thread of loving SMC.

While applications for regular decision have been sent in and Early Action letters have been sent out, for all of my Class of 2017 readers, you're all entering the next part of the college process. You know where you've been accepted to and now, it comes to narrowing things down. It's definitely tough and I'd probably say it's even more stressful then filling out the Common App.

It's not just, "Oh let me visit this college, see how I like it." It's, "Let me make sure I like this school, cause I may be calling it my second home soon."

So, today, I'm here to help!! We're going to do a check list of all the things that you should probably do to make that decision just a bit easier.

Alex's Tips for Narrowing the College Search Down

1. BRING A NOTEBOOK AND MAKE A CHECKLIST: Okay, I know, it sounds cheesy and hey, you're not technically in school for the day, why should you take notes? I'm here to tell you that it is so worth it. As I've said before in many of my blogs, once you've seen a bunch of schools, they tend to blur into, "What did that school have a again?" As you are now looking at schools you are accepted to, you need to be aware that hey, this is the time to be really taking note of what you like and don't like. Before leaving for any school, make sure to sit down and make a check list of what you want and don't want in a school. Bring the checklist with you to every school you go to and make sure to fill it out every time. Also, take notes of what makes each school different- is it the various cool classes in your prospective major? The $30 full season Smuggs pass (had to throw that in for SMC :)? The awesome burger and fries? Don't feel like a nerd or something if you bring a notebook and pen because it shows that you're taking this decision seriously, which in my opinion, is pretty awesome!!

2. TAKE PHOTOS: Going back to the first tip, I'd totally recommend that if you have a camera phone or a camera in general, bring it with you on  your trip. Take a picture or make a vlog coming and going to each school. If you're taking a tour, ask the tour guide if you could take some pictures of the different places you stop off at. That way, when you get home, you can form a college search journal of the different places you went and your opinions going, during, and after your day at the school. When I was deciding what schools to go to, I would always look back on my photos and videos to see what I was feeling at the time so that I could have some perspective into the feeling I got from each school.

3. TALK TO CURRENT STUDENTS: This is HUGE!! The reason why I'm here, your tour guides are here, the people who call you to congratulate you on your acceptance, etc. are here is because we want to help you make this process that much easier. We've all been through the same exact thing you're going through right now and if there's anyway we can help, we're willing to do it. The best way you're going to get a feel for the school is if you talk to students who are currently there. What's great about Accepted Open Houses or Academic Preview Days is that you get the chance to talk to a lot of students. I totally sound like a hypocrite saying this, since typically, I'm the shy girl, but really, do not feel shy about going up and talking to someone. It's a great way to form a contact with a student from the school who can answer any of the big or little questions you may have. 

4. CONSIDER FINANCIAL AID AND TALK TO THEM: Now, I'm not an expert on financial aid, but I can tell you 100% that I personally would not be at SMC if it weren't for the scholarships I was granted and the financial aid department working with my family for me to be here. SMC students are lucky enough that our Financial Aid department gives 90% of students financial aid through their four years at SMC. We all realize that college, especially a private college like SMC, is pretty expensive now a days. While I would absolutely never say sacrifice your experience at your dream college because of financial aid, I would say to definitely take it into consideration and talk to your family about it as well. Look into the options of getting work study, a job on or off campus, or outside scholarships you could possibly apply for as well. Also, don't hesitate to call financial aid!! They're willing to answer any of your questions and can help make the process easier for you as well. 

5. LOOK AT THE OPPORTUNITIES EACH SCHOOL CAN GIVE YOU: While we all are excited about going off to college, we have to consider the real reason why go to college- to receive an amazing education which will take us places in the future. Interested in becoming an Anthropologist? (Aka like my best friend, Megan :) look into the classes you can take that will get you there. Want to be on the Varsity hockey team? Make an appointment to talk to the coaches and spend a day with the hockey team to see how you fit in and your chances making the team. Want to devote your life to community service? Check out the different opportunities each school has and what alumni did after graduating in order to continue their love of helping others. Want to get an internship? Make sure you research if the school has a career/ job office with counselors who can help you with that. Go back to that checklist and make sure you research what you can do and where you can go with each school that you're looking into so that when you get on campus, you know what you have ahead of you. 

6. RESEARCH RESEARCH RESEARCH... BUT GET THAT "FEELING": Yes, you just knew I had to put in the "feeling" (One day, I should totally just trademark it hahahaha!!) Once you've done all this research, taken all the notes, looked at your photos and vlogs a million times, it comes down to that feeling. Where did you get that sense of, "Wow, I belong here. This is where I feel I can call home these next four years." You can picture yourself taking the same ways to class, to the cafeteria, to your dorm, as these current students do. You see yourself wearing your college sweatshirt and sweatpants on Saturday morning and staying up late in the library for that big exam. That, my wonderful readers, is when you know it's the place for you :)

Now that I've given you all those tips, start modifying them to make them fit you. Hopefully, I have made this slightly easier for you all and no matter what, I wish you all the best of luck!! Remember, if you have any questions at all, feel free to email me, send me a Formspring question, or tweet me on Twitter- I'm always happy to help!!

Also, WEDNESDAY there is a PARENT  KNIGHT CHAT, where your parents can talk to our amazing bloggers and have all your questions answered!! It's from 7:30-9, so hope many of you check it out!! To my Class of 2017 readers, if you haven't become a member of the Class of 2017 FB page, DO IT!! It's a great way to meet future classmates!!

Until next time, I send you my very best wishes,
Alex :)


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  3. Alex,
    Great advice! You are really helping high school students to make the most of their college visits!

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