Not ready to grow up! / College help

Reply Wed 23 Jul, 2014 08:53 pm
Im 17 and im about to be a senior. (i live in michigan) i graduate in 2015 and still haven't decided what college i want to go to. Everyone keeps telling me thats fine, I have time to decide, but time is going by so fast. I feel like by the time may comes, i still wouldn't have figured out what i want to do with my life.. I signed up for all of these newsletters and such on college websites, and i get tons of mail advertising their colleges, but its so overwhelming to go through all of the mail i have and pick. Colleges also are always calling my phone (because i signed up on their websites) but i never answer because I am too shy to talk). How do i really APPLY for colleges online?? How do i get scholarships, financial aid, and/or waivers for colleges?? I haven't visited any colleges either. Can someone please walk me through these steps. I'm so stressed and I need serious help. Thank you.
Reply Wed 23 Jul, 2014 09:31 pm
Let's start with one basic fact. You do not need to decide what to do with your life. Not now, and not even when you get your BA. Really.

As for the rest of it, consider the following factors:
  1. Price
  2. Distance from home (if getting home is a big production or is expensive, that won't be too pleasant. My parents and I decided it would be a radius of 500 miles from home, and that was a great, easy way to do it. I just took an old-fashioned compass on a map, drew a circle and anything within that radius was far game. Exceptions would be if I got into an Ivy League outside the perimeter)
  3. Scholastic reputation (US News and World Report gives decent ratings)
  4. Placement services and success rate
  5. Variety of programs (if you change your mind during your years there - and a lot of people do - then you want a backup)
  6. Size of the school (some people thrive in big schools. Others don't. But just because a school is large doesn't necessarily mean you won't get personal attention. The opposite can also be true)
  7. The likelihood of going into debt, and how much (e. g. are there a lot of scholarships you'd qualify for? This is related to price but it's not the same)
  8. Consider the location. A lot of people settle where they went to school, and a lot of local businesses are more likely to give hiring priority to graduates of local schools (the exception being Ivy Leagues, which are a ticket pretty much anywhere)

Plus anything else you can think of that's important to you. Order these factors in terms of your own personal priority.

Now, your shyness. You need to try to push past it because this is information that you need. Don't let the world decide your life for you, because you can't talk to someone. I realize it might seem easier said than done but, except for the school you do go to, you're highly likely to never speak to any of these people again. So you've got nothing to lose.

College can be a fantastic time in your life, and you'll carry a lot of it with you for years to come. And the more careful you are in choosing your school, the more likely that what you take with you is a good education, great memories and an excellent resume, as opposed to crushing debt and skills you can't use.
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Reply Thu 24 Jul, 2014 07:10 am
Why not talk with a guidance counselor at your high school - that is part of their job to guide you in this way.

They can break down what you need to do to determine where you want to go from high school. How to approach colleges, how to apply and how to determine what type of college (or even not college or some other route) would be better for you.

Another thought if you are still undecided as graduation time rolls around. Why not simply try out a local community college - you can always transfer credits after a year or two or even decide to enter the work force after a two year degree.

There is no exact path for any one person -- personally I think it would be best for you to set up an appointment with your guidance counselor and tell them you have no idea how to approach this process.
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