Planning Ahead For College This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Deciding where to go to college is a very complex and difficult problem. As a junior this year, I attended both the college nights at Newton North. I was bombarded with college brochures and forms to fill out to be on various mailing lists. That was in October and now February is fast approaching. I had put all those catalogs away for future reference. Recently I am trying to eliminate some and hopefully narrow it down to eight schools.

Each day now I am receiving information from colleges and have discarded them in my "college drawer". There are so many schools and trying to distinguish the good from the bad, safe from out of my reach, is very difficult. Last weekend I determined I would sort through them all and narrow it down. First I had to ask myself what do I want in a college. What do I want to major in, what activities (including sports) do they offer, the location, the cost, and what chance do I have of being accepted?

Some people may just consider one thing such as the location. They want to go to sunny Florida and do not consider the quality of the education. I am not saying Florida is bad but, there are so many schools outs there and many options that you shouldn't rule out a college because of location.

The location is important though, as you will be living there. However other aspects are helpful such as the population of students, student to teacher ratio, the types of courses offered, special study abroad programs, and if they specialize in your area of study. For instance I know I want to major in English and minor in Journalism and I am considering Beloit in Wisconsin, Lawrence University (Wisconsin), Bates (Maine), Colby (Maine), Connecticut College, and Dickinson (Pennsylvania). They are all liberal arts colleges that have excellent English courses, good study abroad programs, attractive campuses, and produce many authors and journalists.

I have been gathering my writing to put in a portfolio, which should give the college an idea of my abilities. It is a good idea to show the college samples of writing, art, or something you produced. Colleges might look primarily at your grades, but creative work can benefit you and show them maybe you are more intelligent than the grades reveal.

Presently this month I will probably talk with my guidance counselor about college and get her advice. This is also a helpful step in deciding where to do. Counselors can usually tell you if the college where you want to go is possible for you. [I read an article in U.S. News about getting outside counselors. This was unnecessary but, some parents felt that these counselors can get their sons/daughters into Harvard. These counselors have no licenses so there is really no definite way to find out if they are professionals or just trying to make some extra money.]

The next step in the college process is to visit some colleges and have interviews. This February I am going to visit Bates, Colby, and Connecticut which are in the New England area. This summer I will travel to the Mid-West to visit Beloit and Lawrence University. I will probably just see the campuses and have interviews next year.

Everything is happening so fast that it is necessary to plan out when to do everything. It is difficult to have time to do these things in your junior year. You have PSAT's, SAT's, and achievement tests. I have found this year is the most difficult academically. I look forward to my senior year when I have a smaller course load but, I do not look forward to those applications. n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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