1. Make a list of things that you are looking for in a school. For example, do you want to go to a big school or a small school? Do you want to go to a school that is known for STEM or for the humanities? Do you want to be in a city? Do you want to be close to home or far away? This exercise will help you to narrow down your list of potential schools.
2. Go on tours of the campuses and try to remember how you felt on each campus. Were you comfortable? Did you feel like you fit in well on the campus? Did being on the campus make you excited about the prospect of attending there?
3. Try to envision your future self at each school. Picture yourself a year into the future. What will your life be like? Is your future self happy at this school? At least for me, trying to visualize what my life would be like at each school proved to be extremely helpful.
4. Go with your gut. It’s hard to describe, but if you have a gut feeling telling you to choose a certain school over another, go with that feeling or you might regret it later on. I’ve also heard that when faced with two choices always go with the second option because if your first option was what you truly wanted there wouldn’t be a second option.
5. Don’t stress the decision too much. Choosing a school is not a life or death decision and if it doesn’t work out, changing colleges is a lot easier than changing high schools.
6. Seek advice from your high school teachers. Obviously, your guidance counselor will know a lot about the college process, but your high school teachers are a great resource too. They have watched hundreds of students go through the process and are likely to know you better than your guidance counselor.
7. Make sure the decision is your own. You will hear input from a lot of people as you navigate the college process, but at the end of the day you and only you will be the one that spends the next four years at the school you choose. That said, listen to what others have to say but make sure you listen to what you want too.
8. Finally, don’t second guess yourself. When you finally decide on a school, be confident in your decision and go in with an open mind. It will be hard for you to love your school if you are constantly asking yourself, “what if?”