Just this morning I was writing (in College Bound and Determined) about getting clear about what interests and excites you-because I believe that we need to start by thinking about ourselves: what we know, what we have yet to discover, and how we go about making choices.
So, taking the work you have started (in reading the newsletter) – or just thinking now about what excites, inspires, and motivates you, let’s take that information and use it as the foundation for looking at colleges. What have you discovered? If I asked you to tell me what you’re looking for in a college – what would you say? If you haven’t made the Treasure Map that reminds you of all that matters and you don’t have the time now, perhaps start a notebook and write your ideas. These ideas are just the beginning – your ideas may change over time, yet writing them down can help you remain focused in the midst of way too much information that will begin arriving into the mail.
Here are a few questions to get you started:
What do you love to do and what does it tell you about yourself?
Have you ever stopped to think about your thoughtss and actions – and how they reveal your values and what you want in life? When you look at your Treasure Map or your description of what is important to you, what values are you communicating? You will be searching for those values when you look at colleges.
How do you feel about work and play? How much do you want of each at college?
What’s your comfort zone and what’s that balance between work and play – right now? College will most likely be even more tempting – because there will be people and opportunities all the time… what type of school environment will meet your goals for college – as environments range from party environment to “grades are everything here” though in most schools you will find a continuum of opportunities.
Who will surround you – literally how many people – and what type of arrangements suit you?
What kind of connections do you want – lots of organizations and clubs, socializing opportunities, interacting with the community/volunteering or do you prefer working independently, quiet and more “personal space.”
Do you see yourself in a certain geographical area or particular setting?
Some students love the bucolic environment of say, Bard, while others want to be in the middle of Chicago!
Now that you have started to create a vision of what you like, it’s time to start exploring colleges. Look through the mailings, check out web sites, talk with family, friends and other resources (teachers and guidance counselors) to start making that list of schools that will be the “right fit.”
Knowing your scores on standardized test, your grade point average, and ranking in your class will also help you to start the process… remembering that you will be searching for schools that fall into three categories: “ likelies,” “possibles,” and “reaches.”
Shoot me an email if I can help you begin this “sorting” process!
Next post… a close look/some detective work about what college materials are really telling you.