College application season is coming to an end, and high school seniors all over the world are sighing in relief as they click that send button for the last time. Now the waiting begins—restless months filled with anxiety, relief, and fear of possible rejection. While rejection is a possibility, being accepted into multiple places and making the happy choice of where to spend your next four years is also an exciting possibility to look forward to. Here are some things that I would consider before making that big final decision!
1. Diversity and acceptance on campus
Having a presence of diversity and acceptance of all races, sexual orientations, political ideas, and many other things is so important for college. The world is a diverse place, and true educational environment should reflect this, not only on social grounds of meeting new and different people, but for educational reasons as well.
Class discussions and the experience of learning can only become richer by having people from different backgrounds share their ideas and come together to achieve greater things. Diversity is one of the main reasons why I chose Rochester—just take a look at Hirst Lounge filled with flags from over 120 countries celebrating diversity on campus. There are numerous multicultural student organizations on campus as well, and it is crucial to have such an accepting atmosphere on a college campus.
For students coming from diverse backgrounds, it is important to feel included, and for others, it is important to learn from different viewpoints. Take a look at the number of multicultural students on campus at the schools were you accepted to, and if you’re visiting, talk to students from diverse backgrounds about their experiences when you go.
2. Humanities-focused or STEM-geared?
While some schools have both excellent humanities and STEM departments, other schools can be more focused on one area over the other. It is okay to not know which specific subject you would like to major in yet, but it is helpful to have a general idea of which field(s) you would like to go into. Depending on whether the school is more humanities-geared or STEM-geared, there is going to be more classes offered, more alumni connections available for jobs and internships, research opportunities, and overall richer academic opportunities available.
And if your interests spread across the map, attend a school that allows you to explore those interests and find interesting intersections between them. Don’t sell yourself short just because you think you have to pick one thing.
3. Campus size and location
Some schools are very large in number, while some schools are very small. Do you want to go to a place where you have the opportunity to meet a lot of new people and attend large classes, or do you want to go to a smaller institution where you might see familiar faces for four years, and you would be in smaller, more intimate classes where you would become closer with the professor and other classmates more quickly? It really depends on your personality and what kind of experience you would like in college.
Whether you end up here or another school, just remember that college is an experience that you can shape for yourself. In the words of Dr. Seuss,
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”