Selecting a College: The True Snowflake Experience

Each and every snowflake is unique, with its own design and path, although they all end up in the general snow pile.

This is why the college selection process is like a snowflake. Each and every person has their own unique path to get to that snow pile that is the college experience.

So what’s the first step to picking out your college?

Take a deep breath. You will have your own process. No matter what anyone else says or does. Some people will have their heart set on a place for years and go there, others won’t. Some will make their decision at the last minute. Some will apply for colleges across the country and some will apply for what’s close to home. People can tell you what to do, but that final decision and the experience along the way is your own.

So here are my top tips for starting your search and gaining the experience that will lead to your own, personal decision:

  1. Talk to your family or family friends.  Use the people who have known you for most of your life. If your family is helping pay for education it’ll be important to discuss those limitations. Parents and siblings are a great source to what worked for them and what they think will work for you. They know you. They can also introduce you to people they know who studied a certain subject or went to this school and can pass on information to you. Learn from their experience – it’s what influenced my final decision.
  2. Use the internet.  No. Really. We take for granted how easy it is to access all this information just with a few clicks and searches. Visit college websites. Take advantage of all the websites that offer college matching programs and college searches. They have a variety of layouts and functions, including scholarship searches too. Some of the ones I used were Fastweb, Zinch, Collegeboard and Cappex. Create a profile, search and find what works for you. It’s also an easy way to organize and compare schools.
  3. Visit the schools you’re looking into.  Okay, so you’ve heard it before, but that’s because you, personally, can determine a lot in that one visit. Speaking to students and faculty as well as seeing the facilities demonstrates what it would be like living there. Your reactions and interactions will impact your perspective of the school. You can also gain a lot of insight and information that might not be as accessible via the internet as it is in person.
  4. Look into majors and minors.  Not everyone knows what they’re going to major or minor in when they go to college. That’s totally normal, but you’ll want a school with courses, majors, minors and classes you’re interested in. Some colleges specialize in certain areas. Make sure what you want is there. Look at courses, concentrations for majors and what you’d have to take to graduate. 
  5. Don’t forget that you can transfer.  We all stress out about making that single, final choice, but the fact is that it isn’t final. Some of my best friends transferred colleges and it didn’t always mean they had to go to school longer or pay more. You can get transfer scholarships and have credits transfer to different majors. If you have no idea what you’re going to major in, then this is a great way to not feel stuck or confined by the school you’re at. It may take some paperwork, but you can find something that fits you.

Just be sure to take into account everything that makes up who you are. How you study, what your weaknesses are, where you want to go in life and your impressions will all impact which college fits your personality.

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Mollie Diedrich

Mollie Diedrich

Mollie Diedrich is a senior creative writing major at DePaul University. She is minoring in journalism and aspires to be the next big food writer. Her love of writing propels all she does from her food blog to online magazine articles. When she isn’t writing, she’s probably baking. She has a ferocious sweet tooth and adores cupcakes of all shapes and sizes.