So I recently finished a week of college visits with my younger sister (who is a rising senior). It was wild. One going anywhere that has started to open up in the past year is nuts. Second, driving in Boston is the worst. Third, on paper and going in-person are such different experiences that it can be jarring. We visited 3 major universities and drove through another. Personally there were three major things I noticed that changed my feelings about the schools.
One, how welcoming the school is when you arrive. Are they excited for you to start your journey with them? Are they selling the school to you? Are they being upfront about any inclusion or access policies they have, this may look like informing when buildings with ramps and elevators are, financial aid, housing policies, dietary support, etc.
Two, the other prospective students. Are they excited to be there? Do they seem anxious and nervous? Do they seem like feel they are entitled to a spot at the school (smug, legacy status, etc.)? These are the people you could potentially be spending your time with, living with, stuck in classes with, etc.
Three, all colleges of stated values and ideals, but what are they selling it as. We had one school sell it as a stepping stone to success, that it’s graduates were the most hireable. One school focus on the college experience and community. Another about the love of learning and all the ways they promote curiousity. Another, talked about the next step in education and figuring out yourself. There are no wrong answers but there are better fits and it’s important to pay intention to what they think you will get out of their institution.
I have been giving a lot of college search and application advice lately and I just thought it would be a good idea to share out wider. Specifically, my advice is geared towards the introverted or those that maybe anxious during this time. But, why you should even listen to me? I am an introvert who successfully went through the college process (with many introverted friends who also went through at the same and different institutions). My parent worked in the scholarship and financial aid office and has imparted a lot of stories and advice across many years at multiple universities. I work, give advice, and write recommendations for youth going through this process. I am intimately familiar with social anxiety, depression, and selective mutism.
Create your common app or any application accounts early. This gives you more time to ask for any recommendations , write essays, etc. without having to put it all into the same timeframe.
Email the teachers, coachers, and advisors for recommendations before the school year starts. As long as your account is open they will be able to submit it. It makes less sense and is more awkward NOT to ask in person after school has started for the year and you are seeing them on a regular basis. Plus, this gives the impression you are on top of it.
Remember, that commitment over time, volunteerism, and any expansion of responsibilities (babysitting, work, tutoring, etc.) are all demonstration of leadership skills.
Look into the institutions dining programs and make sure there is always a pick-up or carry-out option. There are always going to be times, when you want eat alone, need to work, don’t want the chance run-ins, etc.
Don’t just look at University population, also look at the size of the departments that you would want to be in (Chemistry, English, etc.). The official website should give you a list how many professors you could be working with or stuck with. You may also be able to find how many graduate with that major. This will give you an idea of how many you would regularly be in class with or working with across your time there.
You know I had to. If I pass all my classes I will be done with college. This is my last 2 weeks of cramming and no sleep and over-caffeinating and crying in the shows because it’s the only free time. I still have classes right now so it is not technically finals week but… I have papers due for everyone of my classes before finals week. One of my classes will be completely done by next Monday.
Things I hate about finals week:
Everything is due at the same time, I have 3 finals due on the 14th! I mean why?!
No one is free for things like coffee breaks or getting lunch which extra sucks this year because I’m leaving
There is no time for sleep when you need it the most
Because everyone is stressing out there is an overwhelming feeling of stress and failure
How I don’t die during finals week:
I don’t (hahhah)
Taking naps, especially if you are staying up til 2 am, taking an hour nap at 4 pm is totally fine and will give you a boost for the back half of the day
Try to keep to a normal sleep schedule wake up at the same time go to bed at the same time, it will feel less like you are over extending yourself even though you are only getting 5 hours of sleep.
Self-care is so important because you phyically feel less like dying
Shower so you do not feel as gross
Eat 3x a day to keep up strength even if you some of them are only snacks and desserts
Drink as much water as you do caffeine, once again try not to die.
Take breaks to talk to a fellow human being that is not doing the same finals as you and will not just talk about work (this is important
Good luck getting through the next weeks to me and everyone else.
Lessons learned in a month and a half of living with 5 other people:
Write your name on all specialty foods or any food you don’t want eaten by other people. Still mad about that blueberry muffin by the way.
If you take more than 15 minutes in the shower, shower or no, someone is going to have to pee. It will be hilarious
The apartment will always smell like food because everyone’s mealtimes are slightly off.
NOT ALL SMELLS GO WELL TOGETHER!
You only get one overnight dish in the sink per night. If you leave every piece of flatware used to make a meal the sink will begin to overflow.
There should never be any hair on bathroom surfaces. It’s really gross and your roommates will not let it go… even after you point out that you are not the only one with long, curly hair.
These will become some of your closest humans, not a lot of people get to survive you in the mornings. Or understand the intensity of game show night. Or have dance parties as you all stress out about midterms.
So, I am almost done with college. I have one semester left of finishing my undergraduate degree and to be honest I’m freaking out. I’m not exactly sure where or who I want to be when I leave this campus in four months. I’m not sure that I can do anything actually. Do you ever get that fear that if you talk about something too much it’s just not going to happen? I am planning and have been approved to graduate this December, however every time I bring it up I fear that it’s not actually going to happen. That I’ll have to explain myself when I come back next semester. I know that I should be fine.
This semester academically is tough I am taking an additional class to graduate early, which means I have a slightly heavier work load than most of my friends. But it’s all elective classes in my major and minor, which means I actually like the subject matter and I’m not just stuck with them. The weirdest part about being a senior though is when in class I am the oldest academically there. That’s freaky, sometimes I still feel as lost as a freshman.
My goals for this semester is not to fall behind academically but also not miss out socially. I don’t my last semester of college to be one that I regret or wish I had done something differently.
So one of the hardest things coming into this summer is the idea of having to make 100% of my own meals, plus food shopping though I like that part. It’s been a lot more fun and easier to cook than expected. Meal planning has not been as such. I have lots of food but figuring out when to have what when, also packing for lunch at work.
So obviously I stocked up on the non-perishables at the beginning of the summer. A lot of soups and noodles and rice to fill the stomach at any time. The standout was however Stovetop stuffing. It is so cheap and delicious and easy to make that it’s become a huge staple for me. You can also eat or add a lot to the basic mixture or have it by itself.
The rough thing is protein. Meat is ridiculously expensive and I am on a shoestring budget. However, eggs are great and actually you can make a lot with them. Not going to lie I have been eating more french toast than I had previously expected. Tuna is also really good and really cheap (also keeps forever!). Sandwiches are good but what I really like to do is add it to leftover Mac&Cheese with a little bit of mayo, spices, and extra cheese. It’s kinda like a makeshift tuna casserole. Any suggestions for new ways to get protein in my diet would be suggested? (Do not suggest peanut butter I am eating that everyday for lunch at work.)
The hardest part is figuring out when to eat everything and how to have a “balanced diet.” But food is so good and sometimes it’s hard to decide if I want pasta or a grilled cheese. Adding non-bread based foods is also rough, produce is expensive! Spinach has been a blessing in disguise, but fruit is so expensive and does not last that long. Fresh frozen is good but the bags are so small that I don’t want to have to keep repurchasing them.
Looking forward to making myself more and better food in the future.