How to pick a college

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Picking the right college can prove to be a frustrating, but worthwhile process. It can take a lot of time, but in the end, it is all worth it.

Now that May first has passed, most seniors know where they are going, and just how they were able to make that decision. Senior Chelsey Barker said, “I am enrolled at Curry College in Milton, Massachusetts.” Her biggest reason for picking the college: “It was definitely how I felt on the campus. It wasn’t necessarily about the “I’m home” feeling, it was just kind of I felt I fit in.”

The feel of the campus is very important to most students. For them, this is the place they are going to be living for the next four years, so it is important to feel comfortable there.

On the other hand, senior Diana Rice shared her choice: “Three Rivers”. Her deciding factor: “Money. I didn’t want to be in debt.”

College can be expensive so the price is another important factor in choosing the right college.

Similarly, senior Isabelle Muller who said she is going to: “Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, MA” said her reason for choosing Mount Holyoke: “The determining factor was that it was my cheapest option. It ended up being cheaper than doing two years at UConn Avery Point, living at home, and two years at Storrs. This is because they meet 100% of demonstrated need using the CSS Profile, and they gave me generous amounts [of financial aid] in grants, as well as loans.”

Another reason Muller chose the college was a mixture of many things that she wanted in a college. Muller commented, “The reason why I’m glad that it worked out this way is because I wanted a small, women’s, liberal arts college, and that’s exactly what it is. They give lots of freedom and support to students who are undecided about their major. Their admissions and financial aid offices were the most helpful of all the ones I worked with during the application process.”

Some students such as senior Lia Scala, who is going to “Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts.” chose a college based a mixture of all above reasons, and more. When choosing Clark, Scala said the more important deciding factor was: “ I chose Clark because they have a great program where [I can ] get [my] masters in five years and the last year is free if [I] have above a certain GPA. Friendly people, close to home. It’s co-ed. The cost is relatively cheap  and they gave me a good scholarship.”

Look everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Look into which schools meet 100% of need. The ticket price is not representative of what you’ll be paying.”

— senior Isabelle Muller

One last factor in the college decision could be location. Senior Julia Gigliotti said she is going to the University of Mississippi. She stated her reason for choosing Ole Miss was simply: “because it was far away.”

Location is a key aspect to look at when deciding a college because some want to leave home, whereas for others they may want to stay close. Whereas Gigliotti wanted to go far away, Muller wanted to stay close. Muller said, “I definitely didn’t want to leave the northeast. I’m not ready for that kind of climate change. I’m glad to be out of state, but not too far that it isn’t hard to come home when I need to.”

Barker also wanted to stay close “because of [her] family. I also was going to go to Florida, but that didn’t happen, and I love the city of Boston, and it’s seven miles outside the city.”

Scala also wanted to stay close to family: “Clark is not only a great college, but close to home. I think being close to home, you can come home on the weekends or if you forgot something you can easily have it mailed to you or driven up.”

There are so many different classes to take and things to learn when going to college. It can be hard to choose just one. Barker has a  clear idea of what she wants to study: “I plan on majoring in criminal justice and double minoring in psychology and sociology, but I change my mind often.”

Gigliotti also has an intended major in mind, “Communication disorders.”

Rice was also sure about her major when she said, “I’m going to major in English. I want to be certified in K-12.”

Sometimes people are not as sure what they want to do when going into college. Scala finds herself feeling that way: “It’s either business or pre-med, and I’m minoring in Spanish.”

Other times students enter college undecided, however, many colleges offer so many classes in so many different areas that it is easy to experiment and find out what fits best.

Undecided is where Muller finds herself: “I have no idea at this point. Maybe history? Maybe some track working towards becoming an art teacher? Probably something else entirely? I do know I want to do a program that they call a Nexus, which is essentially a minor with an internship component, in archiving and museum studies, which I think is a really cool and unique program.”

Although the college experience can seem new and exciting it comes with problems too. The biggest problem with college that Barker, Gigliotti, Scala, and Muller all agree on is the price. They agreed that college costs too much, and as Barker added, “You should be able to go where you want to go.”

School is not for everyone, so taking a gap year can also be appealing. Gap years are a great time to explore or save up, both of which are great opportunities. Rice said, “I’m pro-gap year if it fits for you.”

Gigliotti commented, “So you could get an idea about what you really want to do with your life and you can experience the world.” Scala has similar views to Gigliotti: “I think it would be a good decision if someone wants to travel or get a full-time job to attend college next year. If they want to spend time with their family or just explore.”

Scala also shared that she was considering a gap year for next year. She shared her plans if she decided to take the year off: “I personally want to take a gap year. I have a lot of options I want to take. I was thinking about taking a paid internship at a hospital or just volunteering there. Or waitressing and I’m thinking about taking a couple classes at Three Rivers and keeping up with my Spanish.”

The only problem gap years present could be going back. Gigliotti said she could not take a gap year because: “I don’t think I would have the motivation to go back.”

Muller sees the same problem: “It’s definitely a good option for a lot of people. I’m just wary of people who might lose motivation to go back to school at the end of that year. Also, it is important to look into how the money one may make during that year will affect their financial aid.”

After going through this process, the seniors have learned a lot about how to make the right decisions for them. They also have a lot to share with the juniors as they prepare to make these decisions. Barker shared, “Go to college fairs. Go to multiple. Visit the college you’re thinking of. The feel of the campus is so important when deciding a college. I would not be going to Curry if I had not visited Curry. Get up and go.”

Gigliotti said, “Do your research about schools now so you have an idea about what you’re doing when it comes time for applications.”

Scala advised: “Interviews really help and you should schedule it for the fall of your senior year and if you can’t make it you can have one of their representatives come down. Visit the campus.”

Muller said, “Look everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Look into which schools meet 100% of need. The ticket price is not representative of what you’ll be paying.”

College can be an awesome and frustrating experience, but if every decision is thought through the perfect college will be there waiting.


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