Hello lovelies! Usually my posts tend to be more on the instructive side of college advice, but today I wanted to share more of a personal experience about how I chose the right college for me! Although it is a bit more personal, I hope me experience can help you chose which college is right for you.
When I did college visits the summer before my senior year I visited three schools. Oklahoma State, Vanderbilt, and Ball State. My parents and I went on a four day road trip and hit all three schools rapid fire. Going into the experience, I had a checklist and a pro/con list for each school. I was looking for things like nice dorms, pretty campus, and a good program in what I was majoring in at the time (journalism). What I wasn’t paying attention to was the way each school made me feel, which is honestly how I made my final decision.
The first school we visited was Ball State, which was my back up school at the time. They had an excellent journalism program and they were the closest school to home. After touring, I wrote down that the dorms weren’t great (true) and that the campus was nothing special (not true – we happened to be there on a day it was pouring rain, it is actually a very pretty campus). What I didn’t write down was that I felt at home at Ball State. Everyone there was friendly and kind (something I appreciate as a fellow Midwesterner. I truly felt that I could feel totally and completely natural there and that I would be happy. Yet, it was my backup school, and according to my pros and cons list, it wasn’t the best.
Next was Oklahoma State, a school that I chose because it had a specific program I loved – agricultural journalism – that didn’t exist hardly anywhere else. OSU had great dorms, a gorgeous campus, and an amazing program, but the school was very far from home and the campus was huge. Even in the first few minutes of the tour, I knew I didn’t belong there. It seemed like students there were numbers, not people, and I knew I would never feel comfortable on such a large campus so far from home.
Finally we visited Vanderbilt, which I thought was my top choice school. Perks: the most beautiful campus in downtown Nashville, an amazing reputation, and a bit closer to home than OSU. Cons: No journalism program, and super expensive. The whole tour I kept telling myself that I loved it and it was still my top choice school. I kept trying and trying to convince myself that I could belong there. I told my mom that it was my top school, but even she knew the truth. Deep down, I didn’t feel like I could belong there. I was a small town midwestern farm girl, and I didn’t feel at home on a campus where most students’ parents made much much more than my own.
In the end, the decision had nothing to do with the pros and cons lists I made. It had everything to do with where I felt at home. When it came to applications, I didn’t even waste time applying to Vanderbilt or OSU. I knew where I wanted to go. In fact, I only applied to one other school besides Ball State. I knew I had the ACT score to get in, and I knew it was where I wanted to go. In my heart, there was no where else.
So, what’s the moral of the story? There are two. First, visiting the colleges you want to go to is an absolute necessity. I understand it isn’t possible for some, but I would heavily recommend making every effort to visit before choosing the school. The second moral is to trust your gut. Even if everything is pointing to a certain school, if you don’t feel right there, chances are you won’t be happy at that school. It’s easier to trust yourself in the first place than having to transfer later on because you were so miserable!
So, now you know how I ended up choosing the right college for me! I am so happy with my choice of going to Ball State, and I feel totally at home there. How did you choose the right college for you? Any advice or tips to add? Comment below!