Pick your college for the right reasons

At first I thought that my college process would be the same as many other students at this school. I was wrong.

Clay Coffman

Toward the end of my junior year, it finally hit me: I’m almost done. Only one more year of high school, only one more year of Cougar Coasters and chicken parmesan, one more year of tardy tables and seminar passes.

I also came to another stunning realization: I had no idea what I was going to do for the next four years of my life.

So began the ever-complex process of choosing a college. When I first began my search, I had no idea where I wanted to go. Of course, KU was on the list (Who wouldn’t want to be a part of the Phog?). I also made a list of other schools that I thought I might like (and that might accept me).

Then I buried my head in the review books. After about a month of researching, not one of the schools that were originally on my list remained. One month later, my list completely changed again.

So many factors go into the college selection process (cost, location, student body size, athletics, class size, available majors, political leaning, Greek community, job potential, etc.) that I think some people don’t take enough time to actually figure out what they really want in a school—not what their parents want or what their friends say they want, but what they, as individuals, want.

Figuring out what that is isn’t easy. If it were easy—if everyone knew exactly what they really wanted to do all the time, people would not change their majors three or four times because they would know exactly what they wanted to do freshman year. I was subject to this dilemma when I first started looking for a school, and it took me almost a year to finally make a decision that I felt was right. I made lists of things I liked to do and a list of things I don’t care for at all. Then I just started Googling everything that was on the list of what I liked. After I found some places that had activities I liked, and climates that I would find bearable, I started looking for schools in those areas. I figured out which of those schools had the best academics, the fewest things I disliked and narrowed the list down to two or three schools.

At the end of my college search adventure, I found myself 2,000 miles away in another country.

The school I chose was the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. There were a lot of reasons I liked it—it’s a large school, it has strong academics and it’s in a world-class city.

That is where so many seniors go wrong when they try to choose a school. They just take what they are told for granted and don’t actually do any research themselves. They end up thinking five years later, “Wow, I had a great time, but wouldn’t it have been cool to go there, or try that one time?” You only get one shot at college.

We all should get out, experience amazing things and meet a few incredible people.

Most of us are going to college to learn so we can get a job that will challenge us, make us feel useful and pay us well. It’s important to make sure that you are most concerned with the more vital parts of a college when making the choice, such as the alumni network and the teachers at your school, instead of worrying about how many treadmills there are in the student union or how many times a day you can eat with your meal pass.

I made the mistake that so many other people make when I began searching for schools: I thought I knew what I wanted. It took me almost a year and some serious self-analysis to open my eyes and find out what I really wanted.