How to Survive... The College Search

By Kateryna Gedz 2023-02-23 16:45:42

High school! The best four years of your life where you prepare for the next best four years of your life. Chances are, you’re planning on attending college after graduating from high school—but there are so many to choose from! It may feel like a whole new world has opened up as you look through college brochures and picture yourself among the students in those classrooms, those labs, those dorms.

The most important thing to think about is how well you’ll fit. You need to know whether you’re trying to find someplace that will give you instant smarty-points in conversations, like Harvard, or someplace that’s best suited for your interests, like wherever has a club of students who hike every day before classes, or an art room accessible to non-art students (if you’re like me and can’t commit to studying art yet, you can’t imagine your life without it). Fit could be anything, from the financial aid options available to the interests and passions of the students. Every college has its own culture and perks, be it an amazing astronomy course, a giant lawn for Sunday picnics, a nationally famous basketball program, or a home on campus where students can bake cookies (I’m looking at you, dream school Carleton College!)



To learn more about the culture of campuses, you can check out websites like, which provide ratings and comments from students. The three- to four-star reviews tend to be the most helpful. Those who rate colleges a five are probably freshmen who still have rose-coloured glasses on and haven’t tried the cafeteria food yet; those who leave just one star are likely still sour about the time they embarrassed themselves in class and earned a funny nickname that ruined their entire college experience. Either way, the extreme comments tend to focus on just one aspect of the institution, be it good or bad, and don’t capture the whole picture. After all, nothing is perfect. (Except Carleton College. Its bad reviews are clearly delusional.)

It can be extremely useful to befriend your high school’s college counselor. They can be quite busy, especially during application season; but if mine is any indication, they don’t mind chatting with students every once in a while. College counselors are experienced in their field. They seem to know every college and university on the planet, and always know a place that would be perfect for you.



But perhaps you’re like me, and find it hard to ask for advice or narrow down your search because you have no idea what you want to do with your life. If that’s the case, high school is the perfect time to explore things you love. With a little time management and 10 extra hours in each day, you should be able to binge-watch all of the episodes of Crash Course on a new subject on YouTube, or try out for a theatre production, or take up an elective that you’ve never considered before. Now is the time to explore and try everything before you settle down and decide on a major. But remember to not stress too much—after all, taking gap years, changing majors, and turning careers around is more common than most think. Either way, even if you’re unsure of what you’re planning on studying, you probably have an ideal place to study in mind.

Now that you have a few colleges you’re interested in, make sure to let them know you like them! (Carleton, could I make it any more obvious?) Visit their website and try taking a virtual tour, or watch a vlog made by a student to learn more. Sign up for mailing lists to receive reminders about how much you would love being there (the emails about on- campus beehives and vegetable gardens tend to be very effective in winning me over), and join information sessions to learn more and ask specific questions, like the likelihood of getting bitten by said bees. Or the specifics of a certain course. Whatever is important for you! Everyone’s needs and preferences are different, which is why colleges are so diverse. If you have the privilege to be picky with where you go, might as well find somewhere that’s perfect for your quirky little soul.