College Mail by Amanda Batz, Lebanon, PAA simple postcard doesn't seem to cut it anymore. Instead, packages of videos and giant envelopes filled with redundant information about class sizes and campus locations are literally pelting my mailbox as well as my cerebrum. All this mail just because I'm in my junior year of high school, the perfect time to begin my college search! And I do search, especially in the morning when I have to excavate my bedroom in order to find my gym sneakers under all that mail.Dealing with the influx of viewbooks and applications can be difficult at first, but I've devised a simple yet effective program for sifting through it. First, I check the return address. If the state of the school is out of my time zone or in another country, I give that parcel a quick tour of my waste can. I then randomly read through each list of majors, looking for prospective matches with my future goals in life. If I don't see anything I like, I quickly introduce the envelopes, non-profit organization stamp and all, to the garbage.The next logical step in the college choice process, for the majority of people, is looking at the school itself. Campus size, student-to-teacher ratio, freshman driving privileges, study abroad, campus activities as well as honors programs and cost tend to be major factors in finding the college that's right for you. Many people tend to take the college name for more than its worth, just assuming its the best school for them. But this usually leads to unhappiness and discontent with the school, causing extreme hassles down the road of life. The best colleges are the ones that fit the student. Another major factor in choosing the right school is location. This doesn't necessarily mean topography, but a question of population. Some people find it hard moving from a rural community to a huge metropolis or vice versa. Sometimes the mercurial cities detract from the college setting; other times, it may be the lack of activity surrounding the school.The last, and probably least step, is one of the most materialistic things I can think of. I look at the quality, style and flair of the brochures and booklets. I compare it to shopping: if I see a creative, original and well thought-out item, chances are I will favor it over something bland and monotonous. Call me crazy, but I feel better knowing that the school cares enough about prospective students to put time and effort into something that describes the qualities of the school as well as catches the eye. If a college or university is willing to put so much effort into attracting students, imagine what they're willing to put into teaching the students. As for the rest of my college mail, I promise I'll try to recycle. -
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.