As every college student knows, the season of a new semester is upon us. The time of every semester for two weeks – if you’re lucky – every one will #1 show up to class and #2 be early to the class. Along with the time of finals for those who’ve already taken the plunge into going to college, for high school seniors the letters of possible acceptance into a university are beginning to arrive in the mail.
Which is an exciting yet terrifying time when you get that letter/email – since I got all of mine via email a few days before it showed up in the mailbox. The past few weeks I’ve seen countless tours of potential students walking around campus being slightly amazed by the possibility of being apart of the crowd rushing from hall to hall trying not to be late to class in just a few months.
Of course, there are countless posts on what to consider when narrowing down the list of colleges you’ve been accepted into, but there are some things I believe those lists consistently miss.
Realize the Importance of the Name
One thing never mentioned when you’re deciding on what university to go to is the importance of the name. For at least the next 50 years whenever you shake someone’s hand one of the first things you’ll be asked is, “where did you go to college?” The bigger the name is for the school, the more impressive it’ll be to a potential employer, colleague, or client after they ask. Also, keep in mind the reach that school has. Is it known nationally, or is it more regional? This plays a role in where you want to be after you graduate and possibly for the lifespan of your career.
Go Where the Professors Care About You
You don’t realize the importance of your professor knowing who you are and caring about your success in their class until after you’re sitting in their office struggling to understand any of the material from the past two weeks of class, and they spend 4 straight hours with you until they know you’ve finally grasped the concept, and than tell you that they’ll be happy to meet over the weekend to continuing reviewing the material, and go over stuff for the coming week in class. Your professor caring about their job and the success of their students can literally make or break you in college. Because college isn’t easy, and at times you will need your professor’s help.
Look at Schools Who are Great at What You Want to Do
The reputation or even the ranking of the school doesn’t matter if it’s not strong in the area you want to study. Want to study petroleum engineering, go to a school known for its program, don’t just focus on the name. Because your future employer will know the name of that school and it’s quality program.
Look at Schools Who Are Also Great in Your Backup Plan
Sometimes, you get to college, get halfway through your first semester and realize that’s your current major is not what you actually want to study. Well, in my case I just dropped an emphasis, but similar type of “what the hell am I doing” running through your mind. Which is okay, and is completely normal. Just ensure that the school you pick isn’t too specialized where if you decide to pursue plan B, you can still do that.
Surround Yourself With Excellence
When you go to college, you’ll either rise or sink in your environment. If you surround yourself with the strongest academic students possible, you are more likely to perform at a higher level. Meanwhile, if you go to the school where it’s a cakewalk, then you’ll never learn how to deal with having to rise to a challenge. Which is great… until it’s time to get a job. Recruiters know the difference between strong academic schools and party schools.
Go Where You Can Stand Out
Despite everything I’ve listed above, sometimes the “best” school you go into based on ranking may not actually be the best school to prep you for a successful career. Why? Simple, standing out matters. Sure, you want to have a fun, productive, and of course memorable four years in college, but you also want to prepare yourself for professional success after college (or graduate school). This means winning the attention of professors who will write your recommendation letters and give you in-college opportunities that matter to employers or grad school admission committees. Think about how you’ll compare to your classmates, and choose the school where you can stand out.
What’s something you wished you had known to consider when choosing a university?
Ally Gonzales is the founder & editor-in-chief of RunningSoleGirl. Along with blogging she is also juggling attending college and majoring in Exercise and Sports Science with a Sports Management minor.