Making the final decision
April 13, 2016
Everything associated with college has been stressful. The choosing was stressful, the applications were stressful, the interviews were stressful, the waiting was stressful, and the rejections weren’t really stressful but they were super depressing. Then again, depression can be stressful too. But now that the dust has settled, one thing awaits: deciding on a future home.
There are the general things to consider: major, location, graduating salaries… But how much of that truly matters?
Let’s be realistic, most of us have no real clue on what goes on in the outside world, and there is every possibility that our eventual major is worlds away from what we first imagined. Therefore, it is better to focus on schools that cover your areas of interest rather than those that excel at a specific major.
And for weather, be realistic on what you can handle. Sure you might like the occasional cold weather that invades California (oh dear, 60 degrees I might actually need a jacket!), but if you have never lived in sub-zero temperatures for days at a time, you might not find much enjoyment next year when you are an icicle trying to study Shakespeare (or whatever college students study.)
That brings me to some things that I consider to be deciding factors for choosing where I want to go. First is prestige. Most parents love this word (I think my mom loves prestige more than she loves me), and for good reason too. There are more opportunities for children at prestigious colleges whether that be in the form of making connections, obtaining internships, and receiving job offers. For collective cultures, you bring honor to your family and for individualistic cultures, you get bragging rights. If there are no issues, this is indeed the right path to take.
Often, prestige comes at the cost of high financial payments that might not make it worthwhile, especially if you have more affordable options. In my mind, affordability is the number one factor when considering where I want to go. Never place yourself or your family under a financial burden just to attend a prestigious university for an undergraduate degree (that in today’s time does not get you much.) The pressure runs too high and learning will become difficult because like it or not, it is very possible for you to fail in college.
And that brings up my third factor when deciding. Know yourself. If you felt Diamond Bar High School was competitive and you only got into a good college because of the help of a college counselor (or because you cheated your way through high school), then placing yourself in an atmosphere where a majority of students are geniuses might not be a good idea.
Finally, here is my advice. Don’t listen to your heart. Take whatever advice your heart is giving you and throw it out with all your rejection letters. Most of you are an emotional mess right now, and such a big decision should not be made based on your feelings of extreme joy or jealous anger. Ask your family members, get advice from college students, listen to the words of wisdom (or WoW as they said in Chaparral) from teachers, and do whatever you can to get as many opinions as possible. Only then can you truly get the information you need for a final commitment.
As for me, my college application journey is coming to an end. Thank you for reading my thoughts and staying with me through my process. Berkeley, here I come.