How do you make one of the biggest decisions of your life?
You start by recognizing that you will be successful no matter where you go to college.
How do I know this? Because you are smart, talented, and nothing and no one will stop you from living your dream. A college isn’t going to make you or break you. Instead of focusing on being good enough, figure out if the schools you’re interested in are deserving of someone like you. You are at least 51% or of your success story. The school is 49% or less (and that’s being generous). To help you find the best fit, here are five questions to ask during your search. Ask them on campus tours, at information sessions, and when talking to people attending the colleges that interest you. Each question will help you get closer to finding your best fit.
Why did you choose this school and what are three other schools you were considering?
This question will help you understand why the person you’re talking to decided to go to this particular school. It will either be the same reason as yours (perfect) or another reason that you never considered (perfect too). If you two share common interests, this question will lead you to ask more questions. The second part of this question (asking about the three other schools) will help identify schools that might not be on your radar. The more you ask this question, the sooner you’ll see patterns emerge when it comes to schools on your radar and the reasons students choose these colleges.
Where are the three places you found your closest friends on campus?
The best way to learn about a school is to identify the places where people made friends and formed new relationships. These are places are where you’ll sweat, play, pray, live, learn, lead, love, and work on campus. They’re where it all happens. This simple question will help you learn where students are spending meaningful time on campus. You’ll discover activities, student groups, and information about campus that isn’t always on the website or in your field of vision. You will also connect with people who share similar interests.
Who are the five people who helped you the most during your first year in college and how did they help you?
This question is going to help you learn about specific people and support services on campus. Many of these people and support services will also be available to you. Some of these people may be from organizations you can contact on campus or visit during a visit. It’s also a great question to help you learn about other people’s first year experiences and when they needed help. This is especially valuable if you’re a first-generation student going through all of this for the first time.
What was your most uncomfortable experience during your first year in college and how did you get through it?
This is a juicy question that will give you a lot of information. You’ll learn about common challenges and how to find answers. The stories will always include one or more of the five big life transitions faced in college: social, emotional, physical, financial, or academic. The story will always include a person who helped or place where a student found help. The answer will give you insight into common uncomfortable issues that students will face. Use this question whenever you want to learn more about someone and what they’ve faced in their personal or professional life.
Can I stay in touch with you if I have more questions?
Ask it! Don’t be scared. These people are just you a year or two or three in the future. They want to help. They want you to reach out to them via Snapchat, Instagram, LinkedIn, email, etc. Once you get their info, use it. Ask them if they have friends on other campuses. Ask them questions that pop up. They are there to help you and answer your questions.