Advice for senior year of high school

Ahh senior year, the final season of hometown comfort before you embark on your first major milestone. Choosing to go to college has become a norm in the United States, yet you are about to become one of the privileged few who earn their college degree; something that less than 12% of Americans can attest to. But before you even pack your bags and buy your dorm décor, there’s the application process. And the research. And the tours. And the seemingly innocent yet never ending chorus of “Where are you going to be next fall?” No pressure right? Yeah… rrrright. On top of the nostalgia your bound to face thinking of leaving behind your friends and family, you are now preparing to commit to the place you are hoping to spend the next four to five years of your life at. Where do you even start?! Take the pressure off yourself my friends. Chase the school that fits you, not it’s brand.
Many people are going to be applying and pining for the schools with the flashy names. Top Tens, Ivy League, private liberal arts’, you know the ones. This name dropping game we all play will continue for a while until decision letters arrive and give us a better idea of our actual options. When I was applying for college I was terrified. Sure I was involved in after school clubs, sports, counsels and the like, but my GPA was dismal at best. I knew I had the potential and drive but at the time I was convinced I was going to end up at a school I had no preference for. The name of the game: Take What You Can Get. I could have blamed it on my poor testing skills, the accelerated curriculum at my private college-prep high school, or “distracting” home life, but I knew I just flat didn’t produce the efforts I needed to get the results. Results that would surely NOT get me into schools like University of Michigan, Michigan State, and (God bless) Harvard like all my other friends. By some stroke of academia grace I was accepted into a decent four-year university with my best friend and was able to move away come fall. Not half bad right? But that, my friends, was not the end of my story.
I ended up having, to date, the worst year of my young life. I was an outcast for not drinking at this (unbeknownst to me) party school, roommates/best friends had thrown up in my new bed the first week, and I had no method of transportation to escape home. I was left to bloom where I was planted. So after two semesters of burrowing in the library, joining academic clubs, getting involved with research, and making Deans List both semesters I had more than enough credentials to transfer. I had created a new start for myself to find the best fit for me. Senior year all over again, except I was not swayed by the pressure of finding a brag worthy school I knew was out of my reach. I visited several campuses where I knew friends over spring breaks or Christmas holidays to stumble upon my second home.
After applying and being accepted to my Alma Mater I cried. I was finally at a place that fit my needs the best. It offered a more communal (read: sober) population, smaller class sizes, access to a city for networking, and the campus was beautiful to boot. Once I put aside others expectations of what was a ‘good enough’ school by other peoples standards I found the university that I will forever call home. Chasing what school offers the most for you and your collegiate growth can be just as difficult as applying. Sometimes it takes a few tries but having a name behind your degree will means nothing if you are not inspired to make the most out of what it has to offer. Before you send out those applications or request your high school transcripts, invest some time into soul searching and campus visits. Maybe college is not the right option for you right now. Maybe you discover your parent’s pressure weighs more than your own. Perhaps you want to enroll in a trade school rather than a university. Self-reflection will provide you with more answers than Google, and it will continue to serve you as you navigate your college career. So take a deep breath, have a bit of faith, and chase the fit my friends!

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