2015 New Year Tips for Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors
The long wait is here as students slowly begin receiving their final admissions news. On certain days, such as March 26th, students will receive three separate admissions decisions all at once. Feelings of elation, confusion and disappointment will surge simultaneously and pulse collectively. Needless to say, it will be a trying time. Come May 1st, however, students will be joyfully committed and eager to finally embark on the new path before them.
My tips for getting through this period are as follows:
1) First and foremost, chant the following mantra “I am much much more than my college admissions.”
2) Be kind and encouraging to yourself, give yourself a lot of special treatment (I like pedicures, popcorn and dark chocolate), and remember how awesome you are in all the ways that make you who you are.
3) Find a way to reset! This is a great opportunity to practice how to reset, a skill you will have to develop again and again throughout your life. Most people reset with extended exercise, creative activity (yes, baking counts), time with friends, a funny movie (I watched Airplane 2 as a recent reset).
Sophomores and Juniors
Winter is a great time to research colleges that might interest you. The guideline below offers tips that will help you to initiate and finalize your college search. When you have a list of colleges you like, then begin to make a plan for campus visits.
Gaining admission to college and having a positive college experience both begin with a careful college search. While size, location and school spirit ratings are important criteria, they provide only a surface understanding of what a college can provide you. Guide yourself through your college search by asking yourself this question: Are these colleges a financial, academic, and social fit? Here are some further questions to help you make this assessment.
Uncover what your classes will be like and how you will learn. You are going to college to gain an education, so look carefully at how you will gain new knowledge, cognitive and career skills, and self-awareness.
What style of learning do I like best? A good lecture? Seminars? Learning developed through group projects? Experiential learning?
What kinds of learning experiences appeal to me? Research-based education? Self-reflective learning? Self-designed academics? Block or short-term learning? Education through outreach? Opportunities do work with my professors or to carry out my own research projects?
Nothing replaces a campus visit. It is imperative that you make sure that the social vibe and activities at a school match your personality and interests. If you can’t travel, scour the college student blogs for a clear idea of what it feels like to be among students on campus.
What is the cultural vibe at this college? Is there an eclectic mix of students or is the college defined by the predominance of one style or social group? Is there an active college town adjacent to the school? Do students have various ways of exploring who they are through distinct theme houses, student groups and extracurricular activities? Where do students hang out and does it appeal to you? Do many students commute to the college? If so, are there activities to keep students involved in campus life?
Knowing what a college costs and what kind of financial package you can expect to receive is critical for most families as tuitions soar to 60K a year.
What is the total cost of attending this college? What will tuition and board cost? What are the additional costs of books, entertainment and travel back home 2-4 times a year? What does it cost to participate in a fraternity or sorority, in a sport or creative endeavor? What kind of allowance will I need to purchase clothes, go out, and take the break in between terms?
What kind of financial aid is available? Where can I get the best education for the least amount of money? Do I qualify for need-based aid? Do I qualify for merit aid? How much aid is awarded by this college each year and to how many students? What is the average student debt for students that attend this school? For answers to these questions, visit the financial aid page of each college and study this invaluable resource: CollegeData
Felicia Fahey PhD
Felicia is a comprehensive educational consultant. She works with college bound students of all ages close to home, across the country and around the globe.