The Mess of a College Decision: Part One

by Liz Setti

Choosing a path after high school may feel like a daunting task. Here are a few helpful tips for narrowing in on a decision.

During this time of year high school seniors are at the pinnacle of stress due to the pending decision of choosing their home for their next four years, which I think is not discussed enough. While this dialogue focuses on the students who choose to transition to an academic institution, it is also important to acknowledge the pressure that other students experience when grappling with decisions to take alternative paths. As a current freshman in college it was not too long ago that I faced the choice of which college and career I was going to commit to. In my opinion there is a lack of guidance for seniors in high school that may assist them during this pressing time. Therefore I am here to give my unsolicited advice that helped land me in a college and major that I absolutely love. While it is important to  mention that not all high school students have the opportunity to choose from multiple colleges, I believe these tips can be useful in other monumental life decisions. 

Avoid comparison 

About a year ago when I was a senior in high school, I felt that applying to and choosing a college created a toxic environment with my friends and classmates. For weeks every conversation seemed to be related to college decisions, our GPAs, standardized test scores, and other discussions that made me easily compare myself to my peers. I committed to my college in December of my senior year, which is extremely early compared to most. I selected Loyola University of Chicago that has one of the top programs in the nation for my major and is in a location that I absolutely love. I decided on Loyola after stepping on campus for my college tour and immediately feeling like it was the place for me, which I did not experience at the other schools on my radar. Despite Loyola being an almost perfect match for me, I still compared the rank and prestige of my future college to the schools that my peers were considering. I believe that many seniors can feel that way since naturally some students will be accepted and attend institutions that have a better reputation than others. As hard as it may seem, I implore seniors to avoid comparing their future to their classmates. In the grand scheme of life the standing of the college you attended is fairly insignificant; however, being in a place and program that you truly love will be far higher in importance than the rank of your institution. 

Picking a major is almost as hard as choosing a college to attend. I believe having an 18-year-old decide what they want to do for the rest of their life is slightly ridiculous. While every student should do their best to consider what career path they might take and apply into a compatible program, it is important to remember changing your major or going in as undecided is nothing to frown upon. In my experience I changed my major from public health on a pre-med track to nursing before I even began at Loyola. Not to mention I have met so many freshmen at Loyola who are already planning on switching their major in a future semester. There is also a plethora of students who have an undecided major and are still in the midst of figuring out the direction they want to take. The majority of colleges are staffed with incredible academic advisors who assist students in figuring out a major that would be most suitable for their strengths and general life goals. Additionally there are countless fairs and events that schools host that are centered around different careers for students to explore. Therefore do not feel pressured to select a certain major while applying to a school and keep in mind that there is always an option to change your major once you are committed. 

Be sure to check out the March issue of Giving Voice to learn about the other tips I have about how to go about deciding on a college!

About Elizabeth Setti

Liz Setti is a Peoria area native and graduated in the class of 22 from Richwoods High School. She is going to be a freshman at Loyola University Chicago this fall where she will study nursing. Liz is passionate about writing and has her own blog, “A Hidden Addiction” and was former co-editor in chief of the newspaper at Richwoods. Some of Liz’s favorite hobbies are running, cooking, and hanging with her friends.