As we transition into the fall season, many teens have embarked on a new journey – college. In fact, 69.7% of 2016 high school graduates enrolled in college last fall. Choosing a college can be an arduous and daunting task for both parents and high schoolers, especially senior year with deadlines quickly approaching.
A high school senior looking to further their education and eventually graduate college should consider five schools seriously. More than five schools is too much and in this day and age, colleges are being saturated with ‘soft applications’, where students are applying but are not serious about it. My advice to seniors is that whenever you start looking, have five schools of interest and then start narrowing it down from there – if you are strongly considering a college with graduation in mind.
When narrowing down your list of potential landing spots, there are three major aspects to consider. First, you should be thinking about admissions. Are your grades and standardized test scores on par with what it takes to be admitted to the school in question? Many times minimum GPA and ACT/SAT test scores, as well as acceptance rates can be found online. Find this information, if possible, and decide if you have a legitimate chance of being admitted.
Secondly, think, can we afford this school for four years? Many times kids feel like their parents are going to write a big check to cover tuition, while parents think the students’ grades are going to cover all of the tuition. Look at the breakdown of these payments and remember, more than likely, tuition is going to increase each year of your college education. Then make sure to look over the financial aid packages and see what each school has to offer.
Thirdly, you should think about what the school is going to do for you. Many times students compare colleges to the point that they start to blend together. Think, what is the location going to do for you? Some students will end up going to small towns and are shocked when bored with nothing to do on the weekends. Some will inevitably go to big schools and end up getting lost on the weekends. What is the faculty going to do for you? Make sure it’s a good fit.
One thing I like to stress is that you must try to get the full experience when visiting a college campus. Many times students from the city or suburbs don’t take advantage of the campus tours or they just come by for a quick glance of the campus – look around at the buildings and inside a few classrooms – then go home. That’s not college. Even if you are living in the city of Memphis, you have to get the full tour experience at U of M. For instance, when you visit UT Chattanooga, you go downtown, walk around the city, and stay there overnight. If you are a local, treat your visit to U of M like you would if you are
from out of town. You have to get the full experience.
Finally, my best advice is that this journey is your journey – not your friends and where they go, or where your parents/siblings went. Keep that in mind as you look to narrow down your list of potential college landing spots and remember that there is a wealth of knowledge online, at your fingertips.
– Steven Mizell, Assistant Director of Recruitment & Orientation, University of Memphis