How I Navigated My Own College Process

Guest Post by Julia High. Julia graduated from high school in 2017. She is a rising sophomore at the University of North Carolina.
The first thing I’m glad I did during my college search was make my own decisions. Although that sounds simple, it is not easy to stray from the popular opinion of colleges, or to have an opinion that differs from your parents, but I would not have ended up where I am if I did not think independently on the matter. It is easy to hear a friend speak negatively of a tour or a school and assume the same opinion. Also telling my parents early on that I did not want to pursue college tennis made the rest of the process much smoother with that out of the way, and not having to fake anything for their benefit.

The second choice I am glad I made was applying everywhere early, none of the schools I applied to had binding early applications, so I finished all my applications and turned them in for early action which not only made senior year much more enjoyable, but getting my acceptances back before April gave me some time to make a decision and time to plan, I had friends who did not know where they were going until May, making the end of their senior year a mess.
The third aspect that helped me a great deal during the college search was consulting my college counselor. She was incredibly helpful as far as talking about what different schools had to offer and what different parts even meant, it was not rare for there to be at least seven of us senior sitting on the floor on her office calling out questions and working through applications together. Her office also provided a space for senior to work together, reading one anothers’ essays and helping one another through applications. Having my counselor to look over my applications before I hit submit and to talk to step by step definitely made the process less stressful. It was also nice to simply have an outside source to listen to my pros and cons of each school and help ensure that I was being rational throughout the process, it was a crazy time and taking advantage of my counselor was a definite good decision.
As well as taking advantage of my college counselor, taking advantage of my other resources on my high school campus was a great idea. Being on a high school for eight hours a day means you’ve got time to use a lot of resources. I got a great deal of applications completed at school, just taking advantage of spare time and working on them with teachers, who were brilliant, and also more than willing to read my essays. My AP English teacher as well as several others were always ready to give feedback on essays. With all the essays that the application process requires it is easy to get passive or sloppy, I quickly learned the more eyes I could get on my essays the better.
Avoiding taking college stereotypes into consideration was also something I found important during the application process. I heard many of my friends saying things like “I can’t apply there because it’s a party school” or “I don’t want to go here because it is easy to get into and I don’t want people to think I’m not smart.” It seems silly, but concerns like these are very real for many seniors, and it made their decisions 10x harder, resulting in a lot of unnecessary stress, not taking into consideration what people would think about me based on where I went to college was one less thing to worry about and I think I did a good job on not allowing this to be a factor in my college decisions.

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