I’m writing this with one week left of my first semester at University. As you all may know by now, I attended a semester of community college in Fall of 2017, but chose to take the next semester off to focus on a career path that I really enjoyed at the time. However, that career ended abruptly (by choice) and I decided to go back to school.
Picking the right school for me was extremely easy. I first visited CSU when I was a junior in high school and my school offered a field trip to tour the campus. I immediately fell in love with the area and everything the school had to offer. I knew right away that I didn’t want to go anywhere else. I was sold on Cleveland State. Looking back at it, I should have done a lot more research before committing to CSU. I don’t regret my decision, but I sometimes wonder if I would have been amazed by any other campus had I opened my mind to other schools.
My sister is a graduating senior in high school this year, and she has decided on following my lead in becoming a fellow Viking at CSU come Fall 2019. This was a decision that was urged by many financial and convenience matters. However, she did have many other options on the table.
I originally wanted to post this before she made her final decision, but I figure if I do it now, it may help someone else too. I compiled my best tips and tricks to finding the perfect college for you. These are all things I wish I knew before I chose CSU. I really love my school, but I could have done some things differently. So please, please, take these tips into account before you chose the school you will spend the next four (or more) years at.
1. Have a good idea of what majors you plan to study.
Yes, I said majors. Have backups and plenty of them. There is a good chance that you will want to change your major at some point. You will want to know that the college you are going to will offer great opportunities and educations for whatever you may change your major to.
2. Don’t follow friends.
Those of you who haven’t listened to the episode Meg on the Mic with Zach, I briefly discussed the backlash I received for “following” my boyfriend to college. I explained that I wanted to attend CSU before I dated Zach. I just planned on attending after another year at a community college. However, the idea of having a friend who was going through the same freshman experiences as me encouraged me to skip the second year at community college. It made things so much more exciting and it gave me strength since I’m such a scaredy-cat.
BUT I really encourage everyone to branch out if possible. If you and your best friend both happen to chose the same school, that’s great. But please don’t base your college decision on where your friends are going. College is your time to make new friends and make memories with new people. Sure, you can still do this with your old friends, but sometimes it’s easier to be thrown into a pool of strangers believe it or not. I’ve made a lot of friends in classes full of people who were in the same situation as me- alone.
3. Reach out to people who attend schools you’re interested in.
This helps a lot with getting the feel for a college. Campus tours are meant to really fluff up the campus, student life, and education programs. The only true way you will know what a school is like before attending yourself is to talk to someone who currently goes there. Even better- talk to someone majoring in the same thing as you. Remember, tour guides are often times students who are paid to say certain things to you while you’re on your tour. Talking to students who aren’t obligated to hype up the campus will be brutally honest and answer all your questions without holding anything back.
4. Consider location.
Are you planning on bringing a car? Are you allowed to bring a car? Do you want to be close to home? Far from home? Near certain resources? These are all important questions to answer. I live about an hour away from campus, and I’ve found that it’s the perfect distance for me. I don’t have a car (I don’t drive. I think we’ve been over this) so I can’t get home by myself in case of emergency. But I can always rely on a family member or friend coming to get me since it’s not too much of a trip. It’s a good distance to test my independence while still have my family a drive away if I need them. Maybe that’s not for you though. Maybe you want to be far away from home. If you think you can do it, go for it.
5. Don’t disregard schools because of the cost.
You most likely will not be paying full price for college. With scholarships, financial aid, and other sources of financial assistance, tuition will be much more manageable than it may seem at first.
I have so many more tips that I could share, but for the sake of this becoming a long read, I’ll cut it off at five tips for now. If you guys have any questions or tips of your own, let me know and I could do a follow up post.
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