Flowers, sunshine, and for many, a metric bleep-ton of stress.
In addition to students of all levels wrapping up finals and Summer plans, many are making the decision to further education elsewhere. Juniors are starting to think about where they should apply, seniors are sifting through acceptance and rejection letters trying to figure out where to spend the next four years, and many college graduates and soon to be graduates are in the same boat for various types of grad school.
I've done the undergrad thing, and recently went through the application process for law school. Here are some things I picked up along the way.
Cost: And not just the cost of tuition, you need to think about the cost of living. If this is your first shake at college, chances are you haven't lived on your own. How much will your parents/family help you? How much is an apartment? Are you willing to share a bedroom until you're in your 20's? How much is it feasible for you to work and keep your grades up? For some, cost won't be an issue. For others, it may be everything, but it's ALWAYS something to think about.
Location: Where are you really willing to live? Are you really attached to your family? How is the neighborhood around the school? Safe? Are you willing to trade in having a car for public transportation? Are you prepared for culture shock? This is an area where I'm pretty flexible. I was lucky enough to get into all the law schools I applied to, but I chose to attend my second choice over my first because of a way better scholarship...even though it's in a place I'd rather not live. However, I have seen people drop out or transfer closer to home because they miss their family.
When to consider starting at community college: So, I passed high school by the skin of my teeth. I was a really shitty student. I graduated high school on a Friday and started Summer semester on Monday where I got kick ass grades to compensate for my lackluster high school record. For the Fall, I got special permission to take 22 units (the max was 18) and was able to apply to regular universities that Spring. I only spend one year at a JC, I now wish I had done two years to save money. Starting at a JC didn't hinder me in any way, even if some people look down on it.
Focus on retention and employment rates: Colleges are going to throw a plethora of skewed and confusing stats your way to try to convince you to go there. Sometimes they'll do this before they even make the decision to let you in (a waste of paper). For this law school cycle, I saw that a lot. Your best bet is to find a third party that collects these stats for you. For undergrads I would use the college board website, if you're looking into college and you don't already have an account there...do it now! I used the American Bar Association stats in making my decision for law school.
Extra tips for once you get there:
- Don't be shy, make friends. College is stressful, friends will help you through. I had a rule that I always got the number of at least one person in every single class. If you're not a social butterfly, befriend someone who is, and you'll meet all of THEIR friends.
- Don't skip studying to party. Parties will happen every single weekend and they're all the same. There is no “party of the year” that you just can't miss.
- Join a club that interests you. You can never network too early.
- DON'T make dating your first priority. Just....don't.
Good luck :)