The College Journey


Madelyn Hix, Reporter

Senior year has a lot of added pressures, but none are as large as figuring out the future. Whether you’re looking for a perfect fit or deciding whether or not to go to college at all, you’re still being overloaded with decisions that you may not know how to make.

Before you can do visits or applying, you need to know what you want in a college. This means research. Look for colleges that have good programs in what you’re interested in. Also, ignore parental pressure to go somewhere expensive and nationally famous, like Yale. Go to whichever college fits you. Just remember to be selective and careful with what you acknowledge.

A helpful source for finding your perfect fit is the College Board’s site, Big Future. On Big Future, filter out colleges based on anything, ranging from locations to the diversity of the school. This site helped me find my top schools. It is a great resource when you’re just getting started with your college search.

Once you start narrowing down the types of things you’re interested in, it’s time to get more information on your particular colleges. While college websites are helpful, and you can request information on most sites to be emailed to you, college visits can be the most educational experiences of all. For example, since I was young I wanted to be a teacher. Naturally, the college that went along with that dream was the top teaching school in Iowa: UNI. I quickly scheduled a visit to this school that I had idolized since 5th grade. As it turned out, I hated it. There wasn’t a specific reason, I just couldn’t see myself fitting in there. I easily crossed that off my list, making my choice for colleges easier just from one visit. Plus, if you go you get free food and financial aid opportunities.

One of the biggest questions I had during my journey was about letters of recommendation. Are they required? How do I go about asking? Formal suit or casual dress? Am I being an inconvenience for asking? I can happily say that they are not as complicated as you may think. Most of the time they are not required, but they are nice to have on-hand. You do not need to wear something dressy to ask. You’re not being an inconvenience. Teachers, especially your junior year teachers, are used to this question. It’s practically in their job description..

Did you know that applying for colleges costs money? Neither did I. Turns out that, depending on your school, you may have to pay the application fee. Some places will waive the fees based on financial information. But I’m not going to sugarcoat it: college is expensive. However, there are millions of scholarships out there, from university scholarships to private scholarships from private companies. People are also scared off by private colleges. Don’t be. These colleges are more expensive, but that also means that they have more money to give in scholarships.

College might be one of the most terrifying decisions most of us have faced so far but you don’t have to do it alone. There are plenty of people going through the exact same thing with the exact same fears. Don’t let the daunting atmosphere of the colleges you visit, or the long, wordy applications scare you off. The truth is, you will most likely be accepted to at least one of your colleges so try to enjoy your senior year. Time will go by faster than you think.