Choosing the Right College for You
By Rocio, age 16, California
We all dread it. We live our lives hoping the moment never comes. Just when we think the agony of standardized testing and tedious applications is over, another cloud of stress flies over us when we least expect it. It's that time of year again. It's college application time. But what happens when the decision between in-state or out of state colleges comes into play? Do we give in to our parents and miss out on the benefits of independence, or do we rebel against the odds and take a chance? No matter what type of college we decide to go to, leaving home is just a pain in the neck for most seniors. We run and hide from it, but inevitable guilt accumulates within us. And it seems as if that four letter word drills into our heads and beats at our brain until we're just about ready to explode. One on side we argue that our parents have nurtured us for the past seventeen or eighteen years of our lives, so why leave them now? But on the other we want to be individuals and break out of the routine we so blissfully label as a life.
Ironically enough, believe it or not, most of our parents wish that we attend college, whether it be out-of-state or not. So why is the guilt trip to hell necessary? Coping with our senior year is extremely difficult, knowing there is so much to do and so little time. Advice and informational pamphlets from countless sources invade our territory when all most of us want to do is have fun.
I am personally against the whole guilt trip and I have a few tips on how to deal. First off, let your parents know you need your space. I mean, most of us are loaded with AP exams and are pre-occupied with managing our time on a tight schedule, so the last thing we need is to hear our parents nag us about leaving home.
Second, you might want to get serious about where you're applying. Colleges are always sending us pamphlets about how great their school can be, but trust me, Harvard isn't all that either. I'm in this program called College Match which recruits minority students from low-income areas and opens their eyes to the world of colleges. Through this program I now know there are more than 3,000 colleges nationwide, and somewhere in between there's a fit for everyone, so don't stress out!
Also, consider that there are SAT-optional schools out there which are rated higher than some Ivy League schools, so if your SAT scores aren't that great, don't worry, there's still a chance you could get into a good school with a generous financial aid package. Visit schools you are interested in or schedule an interview. Trust me, it's worth it. But most importantly, ask questions, because this is the time when you decide where you're spending the next four years of your life.
Third, if you have a boyfriend or a bff who just wont understand that you want to attend college, and preparation is needed, tell them how you feel. Each of you may have different interests, but this doesn't mean that you have to completely blow each other off this whole year. Instead find some common ground and schedule sleepovers or days to spend time with each other. Trust me, the last thing you want to do is end up with no friends by the time your prom comes.
As for your parents, as strange as it may seem, eventually they'll understand and support whatever path you choose to take. Communication is key to a healthy relationship, so don't completely blow them off. There will be times when we'll hate school and all the absurd applications we need to get to college, but in the long run it'll all be worth it. After all, we are the future of this country, but more importantly of our families, so we might as well make them proud and succeed. Dealing with our senior year is part of the transition, but we'll be happy when we make it through.