Trying to decide where to go to college is one of the first giant decisions that you get to make in your entire life. And I want to talk to you today about five stupid reasons that some teenagers use to decide where they want to go to college, and why you should avoid them.
- Following your girlfriend or boyfriend. This one’s pretty obvious, but do not choose a college just because your significant other is going there. Especially if you have a better college on the docket and you just want to go with your boyfriend or girlfriend. What are the chances that you are actually going to stay together? I know it feels like everything in the world right now, but zoom out by ten years and it might not be everything in the world. And something else to consider is that if it is meant to be and you go to different colleges, it will still work out. It worked out for my stepbrother and one of my best friends that I went to Stanford with. If you are meant to be, you guys will find each other again. And if it’s not going to work out, well, better to not get dumped two weeks into first semester and wish you’d gone to a better college.
- You’re too afraid to live far from home. Over half of college students go to college within 100 miles of their home, and there are good reasons to go to college close to home. But not if it’s just fear, like what I had when I was 17 years old and was terrified of moving away from my parents. That was terrifying to me. So, I ended up taking a gap year because I was scared. You’ve got so much of your life ahead of you and so much opportunity, so do not make a choice out of fear. It is scary. But take the leap anyway.
- To party. This one should go without saying, but some people choose a college based on its reputation for being a party school. But keep in mind that if you party too much, you’re just gonna flunk out, and then you’re wasting a lot of money.
- Choosing prestige over fit. Quick side note that even though rankings are problematic, reputation is something that matters. If you get a degree from a school with a very good reputation, your resume is going to glide across that desk much more easily. So, there are reasons to seek out prestige. But just because something has a higher rank doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for you. If they don’t have a program you want, but you think that you could just transfer in two years, don’t do it. Just to clarify in terms of what many social scientists have found in terms of college choices: what you major in matters more than where you go. And you matter more than both of those. So, understand that fit and engagement are so much more important than prestige in terms of what you get out of college. So, do not go somewhere that doesn’t fit you just because of the ranking.
- Thinking in stereotypes. This is something that I was also totally guilty of when I was a teenager. When you’re 16,17, or 18 years old, you’re spending so much time just trying to be awesome in high school, win every award, get every A, get a 1550 on your SAT, etc. Just always trying to achieve, achieve, achieve, achieve. And so, when you’re working so hard on all that and living in this little high school bubble, it is hard to understand and know about the big broad world that’s out there. It’s hard to be making this very pivotal decision in your life. So, what ends up happening is oftentimes people get into their heads and operate on little, funky stereotypes or biases. Such as all the cool kids from your high school are going to a certain college. When I was 17 or 18 years old, I flippantly decided I didn’t want to go to Harvard because I didn’t want to grow up and tell everybody that I went to Harvard when they asked where I went to college, because I thought it would sound snobby. That was the truth for my 17-year-old brain. And now that I’m older, I think about how stupid and narrow-minded that was. I was guilty of stereotyping. I also wrote off the entire Ivy League after going to a joint college fair at a hotel near me, all because the people presenting were like attorneys in their 40s and seemed super boring. In addition, be aware that just because one kid from your high school that you think is annoying went to some college, you shouldn’t not want to go to that school. Maybe they went to Vanderbilt and you might not like them that much, but that’s simply just one annoying kid at Vanderbilt. There was one annoying kid at your high school, but maybe you still really liked your high school, right? So, don’t make weird, rash decisions based on small inputs of information.
So, when choosing a college, make sure to do your research, open your mind, and open your heart. Look at all the options, and take things into consideration. Listen to your parents, your friends, your teachers, the people you trust, the people you know, and just seek out information to make a good decision. And don’t be stupid or flippant. Think carefully about what you want out of your college experience, and choose a college that fits your needs and goals. That’s all I’ve got for today, and I hope you guys got something helpful out of this blog!