The Mess of a College Decision: Part Two

by Liz Setti

Deciding on a college is such a major life decision that my pieces of advice needed more than one article. Be sure to read part one for more tips that are included in last month’s issue! Part two of this series offers valuable tips for choosing the right college, including the importance of reaching out to current students for authentic insights.

Make a spreadsheet (advice from my mom)

While I was in the process of applying and choosing a college, my mom had me make a spreadsheet of everything I wanted in a college. I curated a list prior to starting my application process and updated it while I was touring different institutions. While this tactic is more relevant when applying to colleges, it still is very helpful when deciding which college to commit to. I started a spreadsheet prior to applications to brainstorm what I wanted, then researched schools that would check some of the boxes on my list. Following that I made a different spreadsheet of my prospective schools along with statistics about each school that would be important in my decision-making process. After touring schools I would cross them off my spreadsheet or keep them for further contemplation. Some of the criteria included in my spreadsheet consisted of:  

  • Size of the school (student population and size of campus)
  • Location of the school (big city, college town, distance from home, etc.) 
  • Field I intend to major in at that college 
  • Strengths of the program they had compatible with my major 
  • Type of alumni network
  • The financial cost and possible scholarships
  • Friends and family near the college

My rating of the college post-visit (out of 10)Your spreadsheet may look different but being able to visibly look at statistics from all your prospective colleges will simplify the process.

Don’t hesitate to reach out

The best way to get authentic insights about a college is to reach out to current students who are not being paid to advertise the institution (i.e. tour guides.) A good way to go about this is to contact alumni of your high school or of mutual friends who attend the college. In my experience, being able to ask questions and have a personalized answer was very insightful and provided a perspective that college tours and websites do not supply. If you are struggling to find someone from your high school that goes to one of your prospective schools ask your teachers and administration- they will usually know of some previous student who could help you!

Without a doubt the college application process is one of the most stressful times in a young adult’s life. While it may be a very chaotic and emotional time there is nothing comparable to the feeling of committing to a school where you get to spend the future years at. Just remember how you are not alone; every other high school senior is internally panicking during this crucial phase in life.

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.