The time is here! Graduation is getting closer and everyone is talking about college. You know that you have to get started with applications soon but it’s SO overwhelming! It just seems like there are so many choices to make and tons of directions you can go. It’s tough to know where to even start. College prep anxiety starts to develop.
Here are a few tips to make this process smoother:
Even if you don’t know what you want, you like know what you DON’T want in a college. Once you start narrowing down your likes and dislikes, the options you have will start to become clearer. Make a list of everything you do not want in a school (Ex: large class sizes, private school, out of state school, etc). That will help narrow down what you do want.
If you know that major you want to go for, obviously the choices about college become slightly easier. If you aren’t sure about the exact major, you can narrow it down by interest-liberal arts, science based school, arts, etc
The area you go to school in makes a huge difference in your overall college experience. Some people want a large city with tons of options of places to go/eat/see during their free time. Others wants a more homey experience and prefer a small town where they can feel at home. Weather also makes a big difference! Growing up in Miami, I knew I couldn’t handle harsh winters and I based my grad school applications partially on weather. No extreme cold for me!
Does it matter to you if your college has a football team? Basketball team? Does your ideal college experience include going to games?
Money plays a big role in what type of college you can afford. There are differences between fees with out of state vs in state; private vs public. You’ll have to take an honest look at your finances, and/or your family’s finances (if they’re able to help pay for school). What can you afford for college is just as important of a factor as your major. So many people have college debt for years after graduating and you want to make sure that you’re comfortable with the financial aspect of college. Some people choose to go to community college for the first year or two and then transfer to a 4 year school to lower debt and some apply to tons of scholarships to help offset costs. Make the finances a priority!
How far are you willing to be from home? Does the idea of being far away sound amazing or terrifying or somewhere in between? This is likely the first time you will be away from home for an extended period of time. For some, that is great news! For others, they know they’ll be homesick.
These are just a few factors that go into the process of finding the college that’s right for you. Do your research, but also take some breaks and take care of yourself! As an anxiety therapist in North Carolina for teens, I can tell you that college prep anxiety is real and you’ll need to conserve your energy for the months ahead. Good luck with this process!!