Finding the right fit for your future

The difficulty of the college search process

Seniors offer advice on how to narrow options and zero in on goals.

Jessamine Von Arx, Talon Staff Writer

“Money is a huge factor [when applying to colleges] for a lot of our students,” said College and Guidance Counselor Richard Harris. “I’ve had many conversations with [students about] the difference between going to the University of Minnesota, for example, or going to a private school that may cost $45,000 a year.”

For the class of 2012, the top places applied to thus far are the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (47), the University of Wisconsin, Madison (25) and Bethel University, (21).

At Minnehaha Academy, the college application season is just coming to an end. Applying to colleges is the beginning of a new chapter in any one’s life and molds that person into who they will be for the rest of their lives. It decides who their friends are going to be, what classes they will take and where you end up living. So how do you go about the process of choosing which college to apply to? How do you know what school is right for you? And what advice do our seniors have?

For senior Sarah Yockers, the process of picking a school was like most. She knew certain things she wanted in a college but still had many unanswered questions.

“I really like the small feel of Minnehaha so I knew I wanted to go somewhere small,” said Yockers.

Senior Isaac Lee had a different approach to the college application process.

“I chose my schools based on the financial aspects,” said Lee, who applied to both the University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, “The reputation and the average student-faculty ratio where a professor knows my first and last name. I wanted to go to a place where I could continue to do the things I do now, because I love what I do. This is a lot of stuff to look for and [it] took a lot of time.”

Harris has some of the basic standards for applying.

“I think the major factor is finding one that fits the student for an academic, personal and spiritual sense,” said Harris. “I think that unfortunately a lot of students think that name is the most important thing and I’ve seen that there are problems when a student chose a college just because of the name they are going to receive on theirdiploma. So [understanding] yourself is an important process.”

Many Seniors agree that the college process is about a personal connection with the institution.

“If you know where you really wanted to go, focus on that,” said Lee. “For me, I had no idea where I wanted to go. Truthfully, I feel like wherever I go I’ll be happy.”

There were two things Yockers did that changed her college application experience for the better.

“One, absolutely 100 percent [go to] the college workshop in August,” said Yockers. “It got me on top of things, and I haven’t stressed out about the applications at all. Two, in terms of extracurriculars you want to put on your application, don’t try and do as much as you can just for the title of doing it to put on the application. Find one or two things that you really love to do and want to put your time towards. You’re going to have a much more fun high school experience if you’re doing the things you love than if you were to spread yourself too thin to make things look nice on your application.”

Mr. Harris agrees with these seniors and says the most important thing you want to do is come in and talk to one of the counselors because they will try and help bring your anxiety down as much as they can.

These seniors also learned a lot about themselves during this process.

“I learned that being rejected from a college doesn’t make you a failure,” said Lee.

For most students, rejection is the hardest part of applying to colleges and that is a hard lesson to learn. Yockers also learned a hard lesson.

“I have learned that you have to find schools that you think best fit you,” said Yockers. “You can’t go by prestige or names or what your friends are doing or what your parents want. I’m still not 100 percent sure what I want and so I’m still working it out. It’s the first major decision I am going to have to make in my life.”

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