College decision: Look at the bigger picture

COLLEGE: So many options, do all of them really matter? Students should be able to adapt to any place and anything.

education
education (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

College can be synonymous with stress during high school because the decision of where to go is immensely difficult. There are so many factors to consider: location, majors, standardized test scores, tuition, private vs. public, gender mix, acceptance rate, organizations, sports…and so many others. But ultimately, higher education is a huge financial investment and should be regarded with such gravity. It’s easy to get caught up in wanting to go to college with a pretty campus or popular brand name, but to me those aspects are meaningless compared to the actual education.

I bring this up because as I’m trying out college match searches, along with crucial options such as majors and tuition, I’m surprised to see that students can also pick out significantly less important features like percentage of ethnicities and Greek life.

Practically speaking, with the rising cost of college education, most students from middle-income families don’t have the luxury of picking and choosing between those kinds of personal preferences. It’s becoming more of a compromise between the perfect dream school and reality.

I don’t see this a bad thing. I personally hate the question: “What type of college do you want to attend?” where people expect me to say “I want to go to a small, state school with a pretty campus and lots of greenery” or “I’d like to attend a huge university in a bustling city.”

I don’t think aesthetics and other nitty-gritty personal preferences are practical to think about at all. The “look” or “feel” of a place will not be major factors in my decision-making process. I’ll be going to college to learn and broaden my horizons, so why worry about anything else?

Looking for colleges is not like shopping for clothes. Yes, it’s important to find a place suitable to your tastes and one where you “fit”, but so what if you don’t?

Part of the college experience — and life — is adaptability. It’s so important to accept change, live out of “the bubble,” and realize that life is often uncontrollable.

Even if your plans for the future end up derailing off the “perfect” path you had in mind, the change is bound to bring you something positive. Don’t sweat the little things and keep the bigger picture in mind. Wherever you go and whatever you do, it’ll be fine, maybe even spectacular — if you give it a chance.

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