College Selection Series
The stories in this section all revolve around the factors students consider when selecting a college. Read on for tips, advice, and guidance.
Must Read Articles for College Selection
Every year, nationwide, senior students rush to get their college applications in– hopeful that they’ll get into their dream college. But what about the students who haven’t even started the college process, or even know where to start? Do they just not get to go to college? Are they doomed to watch their peers acceptance posts on Facebook? Well, not necessarily because there are countless articles online that step by step help many students to begin their college adventure, so that in no time they too can get acceptance.
Katy Hopkins provides not only 10 essential steps when considering a college but she also provides us with an example of a real life high school senior, Michael Lopresti. Hopkins gives a timeline effect as she arms us with advice: starting with rethinking our college choices to advising against procrastination and being open to rejection! But don’t worry. Although it may be a long process–you’re not alone. This article strongly encourages the involvement of parents in the excruciating process so that students have a support system and decisions can be made.
Like Hopkins, Frank Bruni, also uses a real life example as he advises on how to choose a college to fit the student’s personality. Bruni concentrates on the various schools’ personalities such as “The Party” school, “The Closest to Home” school, or the “Ivy League” school, etc. In his article, Bruni describes how colleges are able to fit the needs of the individual student by allowing them to stay within their comfort zones since we all know college can be an overwhelming terrifying experience for high school seniors. Bruni, although, gets our minds really thinking when he finishes by advising that you don’t choose the “school [that] is the surest route to riches but [instead] will give [you] the richest experiences to draw from, which will broaden [your] frames of reference.”
Sadly not all high school senior are born into rich families that can more or less pay for the all time high college expenses, and yet each year students from low income families are accepted into colleges due to the various means of financial aid. Yet not all is as easy as it seems when receiving “free” money, and Kelsey Sheehy gives insight on common mistakes made by students when applying for financial aid that can end up costing you more than it returns. For example, as seniors, our greatest challenge is procrastinating and Sheehy knows this because she says, “Procrastinating: The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is available Jan. 1, but students often don’t apply until the last minute, says Matt Falduto, director of one stop student services at Kirkwood Community College in Iowa.” This on its own advises us about upcoming deadlines!
When choosing a college, the process will be hard and it will be long and it will bring tears to your face– but the end result will make everything worth it! You’ll now be able to join the Facebook posts of acceptance letters and be able to share your story with others who could be going through the same thing.
Choosing College as a Couple
For some, the end of senior year is full of tears as couples breakup to head their separate ways. For others like Francesca Lingat and Alejandro Hernandez who walk down East Leyden’s hallway, hand in hand, are committed to making one of life’s biggest decisions together.
Lingat and Hernandez have been dating for four years and a key part of their college selection has been considering schools that they both want to attend. The only current one that fits both their needs is Drake University in Iowa, but they’re not ruling out other schools. Lingat stated, “We have discussed about going to the same college if it would make both of us successful in life. If we don’t end up attending the same college, we are going to try to stay together. It would be a lot harder to maintain a good relationship, but I think we can handle it. We both understand that this may be the better option for us in the long and we just have to be able to work together.” After high school Lingat and Hernandez are planning to enjoy the time they have with one another just before college comes around.
Yoselyn Flores and Konrad Rogoz have been dating for four months. Four months might not seem like a lot of time, but for them it’s enough to know that they cannot be apart. Both are planning to go to the same college, either in Colorado, California, or New York. They haven’t decided on a specific college, but they have a plan worked out. Flores and Rogoz are thinking of getting their own apartment close to their college because they know freshmen cannot have their own apartments on campus. However, as time passes by they might consider getting an apartment on campus. Flores concluded, “I’m excited for college because not only do I want to live with Konrad, but I want to see what it’s like living without my parents as a whole.” Flores and Rogoz’s stated that their parents think it’s a great idea that they’re going to the same college because they want them to stay together. After graduating high school Flores and Rogoz want to continue their relationship and continue following their college plan.
Manuela Burek and Casper Pajor have been together for fifteen months. Burek and Pajor haven’t still decided where they want to go to college, but they will most likely go to different colleges. If they do go to separate colleges Burek stated that, “Besides communication, we’re going to try and visit each other as often as we can. That might be easier said than done, but regardless I know we’ll figure it out and make it work.” Both Burek and Pajor plan on attending colleges that are close to one another in order for them to see each other more often.
Jerome Patt is a mathematics teacher at East Leyden and his high school relationship is an example of a fairytale dream come true. Mr.Patt started dating his high school sweetheart early February his Senior year. After graduating high school Mr.Patt and his sweetheart went to different colleges. Being apart from one another was extremely miserable and difficult. Mr.Patt stated, “We visited as often as we could, but that took a lot of time and money. However it was worth it. We needed to see each other as much as possible!” Seeing each other from time to time didn’t work out, so Mr.Patt’s sweetheart transferred to his college second semester. Once she transferred to his college life became a lot easier. After college they got married and are still together until this day.
Ms. Christine Schulz, a counselor at East Leyden stated that relationships may sometimes be a worthwhile factor in choosing a college. She knows students who have chosen to go to a certain college because their boyfriend or girlfriend are going there. She indicated that she hasn’t seen it happen too often and more commonly she has seen “more students choosing a college simply because their friends are going to that college.”
Join the Party?
How much should the social side of school matter?
Many seniors around this time are selecting the college they are going to attend next Fall. Even some juniors are already looking ahead into what they are interested and disinterested when it comes down to college choices.. There are many factors that go into deciding on the college of your choice. As I found out, being a “party” school is to some people a factor of what college they choose to attend but, to other they aren’t even concerned.
As we interviewed multiple students their responses varied in how and why they choose the college they will soon be attending. College is all about balancing, being able to work hard and still make time for yourself. Trouble may occur when students start putting going to parties before their school work. On the other hand, some students go to that college for the party scene only.
Senior Kristina Cosic said, “I want my college to have a great social life also, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a party school to make my decision.”
Allison Dreyer answers, “I will not spend money on going to an expensive college just to party, but if two schools have the same education levels that I want and one is a party school compared to the other, I would choose the party school.”
Another senior, Christian Sosnowski, replied, “Being a party school or not doesn’t matter to me because I am going to play Division 1 soccer next fall, so personally I won’t have time to party.”
Junior Abby Grand agreed. “Parties don’t matter to me because my major and the sports I plan to play in matter more to me. Even though I still have over a year to choose a college I would like to attend, I know being a party school or not won’t be a [factor] for me.”
Junior Amanda Zysko stated, “Education is important to me but also not being tied down in college to school work–won’t work for me. So yes, parties school will have an effect on my college decision next year, but the education factor has to be there also.”
College choices may be hard whether you’re senior or a junior, but really it all depends on who you are and how you want your college career to go. Party schools may be fun, but for others its all about the academics.
Large vs. small enrollment schools
Everyone knows the pressure of picking colleges. There’s a lot to consider, like am I going out of state? How much does it cost? And, do I want to go to a big school or a small school? That’s what I’m going to try to help you out with. A big college has a lot to offer.
- Wide variety of majors and courses
- Large libraries
- Variety of housing opportunities
- Well funded and noteworthy sports programs
- Wide range of academic choices and student activities
- Distinguished or famous faculty
- State-of-the-art research facilities
- More people to associate with and become friends with
But, a small college has some advantages as well, like:
- Small class sizes
- Hands-on learning opportunities
- Individually designed majors
- Strong advising system; advisers know students well
- Strong sense of community
- Professors, not teaching assistants, teach most courses
- Opportunity to get to know professors well
These were the questions I had asked three Leyden teachers:
- What college did you go to?
- Where is that college?
- Is it big or small?
- What college do you prefer is better? Bigger or Smaller?
- What are the pro’s and con’s to which ever one you picked?
- Did you like going to your college?
- Do you feel like you got individual attention
- Is there anything you would change about the college you went to?
And these were their responses:
- “Illinois State University”
- “Bloomington/Normal Illinois”
- “It is a bigger school, about 20,000-22,000”
- “I personally preferred a bigger college”
- “Pros: It being far enough to where I felt like I was away at college but it was close enough to go home and visit when I wanted to.”
- “Cons: Being such a popular school you went their with your high school people while wanting to meet new people.”
- “For my general education classes, no. But my major classes, I did get some one on one help”
- “No not at all.”
- “I went to The University of Northern Iowa”
- “Cedar Falls, Iowa”
- “I think it’s kinda medium sized, about 12,000 students”
- “I mean my preference was a larger school, I didn’t want to go to a small school because i wanted to go to a larger school with a lot of opportunities and more people”
- “I think one big advantage is when you go to a large university there’s a large amount of opportunity; otherwise for a small school they focus on one thing and might have to transfer school, another advantage is the network of a large school, almost anywhere you go you’re going to find a lot of people that graduated there and have things in common with people.”
- “I loved it, one of the things I was interested the most was that back then the college was known for the “State Teachers College of Iowa” everything revolved around becoming a teacher, but also sports and activities. The campus was small enough to walk everywhere but big enough to have your own space. And also, all of my classes were taught by professors and not teaching assistants”
- “I definitely got individual attention”
- “No not really, but looking back I feel like I wish I took more advantage of the opportunities that the school had to offer.”
- “Cedarville College”
- “Cedarville, Ohio”
- “Small, back when I went it was 700 kids, but now it’s about 3,300 kids.”
- “Well, I mean I went to grad school after Cedarville, there are pluses and minuses for both. Small colleges you know everybody but then everybody knows you and a small college isn’t going to be in the Big 10, but you did know everybody so that was nice.“
- “Yes it was fantastic. It was an amazing time for me, wonderful experience. I didn’t want to leave, but I was offered a teaching job so I left!”
- “Oh yes, I knew my professors really well.”
- “I would just study more and take more opportunities and have a better plan but things worked out and I thank my professors for that. The college itself was great.”
Overall it’s up to you and your comfortability and personality. If you’re outgoing, can make friends easily, and can do your school work in large groups, maybe you should consider going to a big college. Nothing is wrong going to a small college either, if you need more one on one time with your teacher and prefer close connections. Either one you pick the experience is amazing, you get to do and study what you want to be in life and just that thought is exciting itself.