What does a college senior know about college selection?
More now than I ever did when I was selecting.
It’s hard to imagine I am nearing the end of my time at undergraduate university. Because I have spent the past six months working with a College and Career consulting company, I am able to look back on the process that I went through as a highschool student with a much more critical eye.
It’s bizarre to recall my contemplation process as I applied to universities, when I was weighing what was important to me in a school. I was the first in my family to seek a university for something other than a seemingly predestined sports track, and the advice of my family members was ill-equipped to help me navigate the chaotic process.
The bottom line? I had to assess what matters to me most, what energizes me, and what would be reasonable from a cost perspective.
I did not have a resource like the Real Frequency CAFE Assessment, which reveals which aspects of college, Campus life, Academics, Finances, and Experiences matter most to someone. Luckily, I had a college counselor who empowered me to realize and describe which aspects aligned with me.
For my college decision, I found that each of the CAFE pillars was pretty equal to one another in importance. I sought out universities with renowned campus life, accredited academics, generous financial aid, and plentiful experiential opportunities. I found my fit, but it didn’t stop there.
I got in, like many others. From there, my college experience has been profoundly enriched by continually engaging with these pillars. Throughout my college experience, I met many students who shared how important whatever aspects mattered to their college decision. Few have been aware enough to acknowledge the importance of buying into and stimulating the prospects that brought them to a particular university in the first place. I’ve met and been all of the students: from engaged and flourishing to lost and seemingly regretful of that monumental decision. What always brings me back to the engaged and flourishing student is seeking help, fueling my fire, and exploring the offerings my institution has to give me.
Collegiate success and engagement are not contingent on one singular crux: the college decision. "The College Decision" is the beginning of a journey of fulfillment that only unfolds if you let it.
Reflecting back, the biggest takeaways from my last five years are as follows:
- Nothing works out the way you imagine - take the time to set yourself up for success today to be able to handle the twists and turns that come tomorrow.
- Knowing your priorities and what you need out of an institution (and life) is crucial to choosing the right one, and then continuing to leverage the resources available to you through them.
- Feeling wrong is inevitable - it’s way easier to get things wrong than the one right way. What matters is what you take away from the mistakes you make along the way.