Underclassmen College Searching Hacks

Sophie Terian, coeditor-in-chief

Dear Underclassmen,

If it hasn’t already started, by the time you get to senior year, count on everyone giving you college advice. It’s inescapable, so don’t bother fighting it. I was lectured for my entire 20 minute chiropractic appointment, by every single family member at Thanksgiving, and by the 26 year old psych major sitting next to me for a solid hour.

Sometimes the advice feels repetitive. Sometimes it’s basic things you knew a long time ago. But sometimes you learn something new, and sometimes they say something invaluable that really shifts your perspective. Keep your ears open and try to remember they mean well.

With that said, now I’m hopping on the train to advise specifically on figuring out how to choose which colleges to apply to. There are over 2500 colleges in the United States, and so many of them are bombarding you with emails and letters, bragging about themselves with the same lines as the others. But making sure you’re happy with the decision you ultimately make is really important.

1. Picture yourself at college to help figure out what you want.

What’s it like? What’s the weather like? How big is the campus? What does the campus look like? Do you run into the same kids frequently or are you constantly meeting new people? What extracurriculars are you involved in? Is there a lot of diversity? How long does it take you to get home?

2. What do you NOT want?

Sometimes being asked “What do want in a college?” feels daunting, but intuitively, most of us know what we’d like. If “what do you want?” isn’t working, try “what do you not want?” and work backwards.
I know I don’t want an all-girls school, and I know I don’t want everyone to have come from the same walk of life as me. Through knowing what I don’t want, I can figure out what I do want.

3. Plug these qualities in and search!

Don’t research all 2500+ schools on your own— take advantage of your resources! Try this college search engine. It lets you set nearly all of the variables you thought about in step one to your personal preferences, and then it generates a list of colleges that match your preferences. This is an amazing way to sort through the craziness and focus on finding what you want.

All in all, don’t stress yourself out too much. As an underclassmen, you still have plenty of time to figure out what you want. 🙂 Good luck!Creative Commons