College: The future is now

College%3A+The+future+is+now

Jasmine George

We’re getting older and the things that didn’t matter to us before, now matter the most. Being younger we’re always told to leave it up to the adults. Money, rides, food, clothes, etc. We were always told to just leave it up to them. It was this way until you realize that things aren’t the same anymore. Responsibilities, heartbreaks, working minimum wage jobs, not having the ability to just sit back and “leave it up to the adults” anymore. Things that once mattered the most to us, now don’t really matter at all. Drama, fitting in, having so many friends, these aren’t in the ‘priority zone’ anymore. Planning after high school, studying for the SAT, saving, maintaining good physical and mental health, while still trying to have a decent social life, are the things that many people, especially in their last year of high school struggle with the most, yet strive to be the best at.

Trust me, you aren’t alone. By far this has been the most stressful year of my life. Not only did millions of high school students, including myself, have a rather overwhelming high school experience because of a global pandemic, but we also have to deal with looking back at almost nothing. We weren’t in school so honestly, I don’t have much experience to look back on and talk with my future buddies about. I have most of my freshman year and my Junior year. It’s a pretty dreadful feeling knowing that the “best years of my life” were completely wasted. Not to mention, looking for colleges, researching scholarships, failing permit tests, not knowing what lies ahead after graduation. These are stressful situations millions of students are in at this moment, so trust me again when I tell you, you aren’t alone.

     College. It’s literally right around the corner. If you plan on going, whether it’s a 4-year or 2-year, there are several things you should take into consideration when researching schools.

  • Tuition and other fees. The most obvious of course, tuition and other fees, (housing, food, etc.), are crucial in finding what school is best for you. A school that you might really like, maybe out of your comfort zone when it comes to cost and a school that has a really low cost may have you questioning why the tuition is so low. It’s also very important so you can start saving and planning financially ahead.   
  • Location and Setting. If you really hate the city, you might not want to look for schools in places like Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, etc. (This is of course if you don’t want to step out of your comfort zone). Researching the location of your school is incredibly significant when it comes to factors such as: How far away is home? Do you want to live close or far away from family and friends? Does weather, politics, or laws in certain areas impact your decision? 
  • Programs. It wouldn’t make sense to go to a college known for its doctoral degrees if you plan on studying law. Making sure the school you’re looking for has the major and degree you’d like to pursue, is top key to your future and future career. No one wants to be stuck paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for a major that won’t do you any good for your future, (unless you’re just interested in college for learning new things instead of studying with the intent of pursuing the intended major for your career).
  • Scholarships and financial aid. Applying for FAFSA is an extremely helpful way to get financial aid for college if your parents or guardians don’t make a ton of money. Other people including myself, who don’t qualify for FAFSA but who also don’t get any of our parents’ money for college, have to go a different route when looking for financial aid. Applying for scholarships, grants, and work-studying, and loans are a few options when it comes to paying for college and avoiding debt as much as possible. Filing for student loans is also very helpful, so long as you can guarantee you are paying them back. Questions to consider; Do you have to fit certain criteria to receive aid? What kinds of scholarships does the college offer? Do they give special scholarships/aid to those who live in the state? 

Needless to say, whatever school you choose to go to should be chosen not only just be chosen for the price, location, or reputation. Does the school give you an uncertain, weird feeling? Does the community around it make you uncomfortable? How do I know that this is THE school for me? 

  • Scheduling a campus tour for your college options is one of the best ways you can tell if a school is right for you. Getting a first-hand look at what will build your future is a different experience and feeling you get, rather than seeing pictures online. Going on guided or self-guided tours so you can get a feel of campus life is as easy as booking an appointment online, an extremely common thing for Juniors and high school Seniors to start doing.  
  • Asking around is another way you can see if this college is best for you. Maybe you know someone who went to this college. Asking local college students or students who currently attend your dream school questions to get inside information about what the school is about behind the scenes, is also a common route for Juniors and Seniors to go. 

To research Tuition or Fees, Locations or Settings, and majors or Programs, visit https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/.

To apply for scholarships and financial aid, visit https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/ for scholarships and https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa for financial aid.

Colleges and Universities doing In-person campus tours 2021: Kenyon College, Hamilton College, Miami University, Ohio Wesleyan University, Tulane University, The University of Ohio, St. John’s University, TCU, Sewanee: The University of the South, University of Georgia, Whitman College, Vassar College, University of Wisconsin – Madison, Williams College, Wentworth Institute of Technology, University of Arkansas, United States Military Academy, Pitzer College, Skidmore College, Smith College, and Macalester College.

To register for the required SAT test, visit https://mysat.collegeboard.org/login.

To register for the required ACT test, visit https://my.act.org/account/signin.