Picking a college is a LOT of pressure. And three years ago, when I made my decision, I wasn’t ready for that. I was so caught up in what other people would think of me if I didn’t get into prestigious colleges that I didn’t even try. That’s right – I applied to one school because I was so freaking TERRIFIED of a hit to my ego. As many of you know, I’m at the University of Iowa right now. And I am HAPPY here. The philosophy department is incredible, my boyfriend is right here with me, and I’ve had plenty of opportunities to excel. I’m happy with my decision to stay here, but I wished that I had overcome my fear of failure and apply to other colleges – even if the outcome was the same. Now I’m stuck always wondering whether or not I could have been somewhere better. But guess what – that doesn’t matter. Yeah, maybe I could’ve been somewhere “cooler” with better weather. Maybe I could’ve been closer to my parents, who moved a year after I went to college. But I strongly believe that I am where I am because I have looked for and taken advantage of opportunities. So, my first lesson is – don’t get too hung up on fancy and prestigious. It’s helpful and its great – but the biggest factor in whether or not you succeed is you – not the acceptance rate of your college. But, with that said, here’s what I’d look for in a college if I could do the process all over again.
The longer these climate-change winters get, the more I wish I had moved somewhere WARM. But if you love the snow – go somewhere where it snows. Beach? Go to the beach. Mountains? Same thing. Do you like big cities or small college towns? These are little decisions, but they can help you narrow down your choices and leave you happier with your final choice. I also originally chose my school because it was close to my parents, and this isn’t something I would do again. I love my family, don’t get me wrong, but I wish I hadn’t limited myself based on proximity to them.
I love working with my local school district and the Center for Human Rights here, so an active local government that was open to student involvement and non-profits dedicated to human rights would have been important in my decision making. You should not only make sure your choices have organizations you’d like to be a part of – but you should reach out NOW to get your foot in the door.
Honestly, I HATED the dorms. A tiny space with no kitchen just wasn’t right for me. So, I would make sure there was either no dorm living requirement, or that you didn’t have to live in for more than one year.
I’m not a huge sorority girl, and to be honest – I never thought I’d join a sorority. But, the connections I’ve made through Kappa Alpha Theta have been invaluable. In fact, Kylie from Little Looks & Big Pictures was in my sorority and inspired me to start really blogging in the first place! Outside the blog, another Theta graduate, Alexa, helped me craft my application materials for senate internships and I ended up getting an interview with a senator I love! So, looking back, a strong greek life should have been a factor for me.
Target & Trader Joes
I know this sounds stupid, but hear me out. Target is my go to place for everything, including peace. If I need something – Target. If I’m having a bad day – Target. Next, Trader Joes. Not only is it the best (and inexpensive) grocery store – it reminds me of home and my childhood. But, most importantly, they have an INCREDIBLE selection of pre-made foods which are SO necessary in college.
These are a few things I’d consider when picking a college, but remember, what really counts is YOU. If you’re going to succeed, you can succeed anywhere. So, good luck. I know you won’t need it.
– to Laura and Leela