College Decision: Using New Priorities To Your Advantage
As some of you may know, my school, Aquinas College Nashville, decided to reconfigure about a month ago.
This meant all programs, except education, would be closed and on-campus housing would cease to be available. I previously wrote about how hard I worked to compete for and receive a full-tuition scholarship to Aquinas. Suffice to say the news of this decision was very startling and disappointing.
Although many people at Aquinas have been very helpful, being forced to transfer to another school was an unexpected hurdle that has caused many headaches.
However, everything has worked out (for now) — I have chosen to attend a public school close to home, and I am very happy about this choice and look forward to starting this new phase in my life.
I do not bring up this situation because I want to vent about it, but to reflect how I am evaluating my college options now as opposed to two years ago when I first looked at schools.
Two years ago, I had just made my decision to attend Aquinas. Soon after, I wrote this article explaining my recommendations for the decision making process.
While I still think I gave good advice, I would like to expand on what I wrote after spending two years at college and then going through the decision-making process again.
One of the biggest struggles I have faced is that many schools have stopped taking applications.
Many schools have an early application deadline during the fall or before the new calendar year. Try to meet these deadlines to keep your options open and make sure that you can attend the schools you want to go to.
Also, to be eligible for some scholarships, you must apply separately for the scholarship by a certain deadline, which is often earlier than the deadline for admissions.
Start looking into schools your junior year, if not earlier, to get an idea of how the process works and what is due when.
I used to think visiting schools was weird. I didn’t care what the landscaping looked like, so why bother?
Well, I think if you are having a hard time deciding, it might be worth it to check out your top few choices.
You can meet some of the students and faculty and see what their libraries or laboratories look like. More importantly, you can get a good feel for the overall culture of the school.
At Aquinas, I led prospective student and family tours. People often had a lot of good questions, including some that required a student’s perspective, rather than that of an admission’s counselor.
Leading the tours changed my mind on the importance of the campus visit. However, I realize it is not feasible for everyone, especially those looking to attend schools far from home.
Don’t feel bad if you cannot, but try to do some additional research or talk to alumni or students.
Don’t do what you feel like you “should” do.
I chose to major in nursing because many people I respect were nurses and I looked forward to the prospect of a meaningful job with great career prospects. However, at the beginning of my sophomore year, I started to think that nursing wasn’t for me.
I thought that as I advanced in the program and learned more that my feelings would change, but they did not. On the other hand, this semester I took a required microbiology course which I found incredibly interesting.
For this reason, I changed my major and study biology hoping to become accepted into a microbiology program. As a high school student, you may not know what you want to do and that’s okay, but make sure you factor your personality and interests into your decision making and not what you want to be like or what you think you should be like.
I think this the number one reason people struggle with choosing a college or a major. Most seventeen and eighteen-year-olds just leaving high school don’t know themselves well. I am still only nineteen, and my middle-aged self will probably laugh when I read that sentence, but it’s true regardless.
Being across the country from my family and being forced to start over in a new community has helped me learn about what I like and dislike and what kind of environments I need to thrive. One reason why I chose to move back home is that I need much autonomy.
Although it may seem odd to move back in with one’s parents to gain more independence, I will now have a car, a job, and a much larger school with many more classes to chose from. Those things were not an option at the other schools I was considering.
I hope this helps any high schooler (or fellow transfer student) who needs a little extra help deciding on their future.
Remember, choosing to attend a school is not an irrevocable decision and there are most likely many places you could attend and be equally content.
Do, however, put time and effort into making a good decision to feel more confident about your next step in life.
About Anna Eileen
Anna Eileen, is a member of the Seton Home Study School Class of 2014 and is now a sophomore in the nursing program at Aquinas College Nashville. She is a scholarship coach with two years of experience tutoring students of all ages.