Things To Remember During the College Process

Over 20 college visits, trips to 6 different cities, and 4 years of my life culminated to a little decision that I made on the afternoon of March 30, 2019. After multiple years filled with countless back and forth thoughts and many tears, I finally made up my mind and decided that I would attend Pennsylvania State University this fall for college. Honestly if I’m being blunt, the college process sucked (for me at least).

To give a little background, I was never someone who always knew where they wanted to go to college. I went back and forth for a long time. For a few years, I thought NYU was the school for me, then it was Boston College, then it was Boston University, then I really didn’t know, and now I realize it’s Penn State. In high school, I had mostly good grades and took mostly honors and AP courses. I did a lot of extracurriculars and held leadership positions in many of them. In theory, I should have been set up, but the college process doesn’t work like that. I thought I had the college process all figured out to a formula, but the reality of it is that there’s no formula. I learned so much over the past two years while college-hunting, and I wish that I had more of these reminders while I was going through it all.

No school has a guaranteed acceptance!! // There was an uncanny amount of times during the college process that I talked to friends about how I was 99% sure I was getting into a school and how sure I was about how a decision was going to go. I spent hours looking at scattergrams and PrepScholar and thought I had it all figured out. I was totally wrong though; the decisions did not go how I thought. Those PrepScholar decision calculators will lie to you even if you think they won’t. A machine calculating your average GPA cannot replace a human being reading your physical application. I really struggled to remember this which is why I think my rejections hit so hard.

Your essays matter!!!! // This one gets 4 exclamation points because it’s that important. I hated writing essays over the summer when I should have had free time. I just wanted to get them all done quickly so honestly I rushed them and didn’t put my heart into them. To be honest, I attribute this to some of my rejections. They are so important though because they let admissions counselors see a person attached to numbers and scores. These essays are your chance to sell yourself to a college. They can also make or break you so take the time and make them heartfelt.

Rejection is hard. // I got rejected / waitlisted from 4 of my top schools in a week and a half. I’m not going to lie - it was hard, really hard. I cried for about 48 hours (no exaggeration) when the first two came back-to-back, and anytime anyone discussed college at school tears welled up. I got all of that negativity out though, and by the time the next 2 came the following week I took it way better. To get through it, I had to just remind myself of how random the college process is and that no matter where I got accepted / rejected it was supposed to happen that way. Rejection isn’t easy, but I promise you’ll be okay.

Revisit schools! // I started visiting colleges during the very end of my sophomore year of high school. That was two years before I actually had to make my college decision, and I do not remember any details of schools I visited early on. When I started narrowing things down, I began to revisit schools I thought I might really be considering. I even got the opportunity to shadow a student at Penn State. This really helped me to affirm my decision and get a feel for how I would fit in at the school.

Pros and cons lists are quite literally the best things ever. // It sounds cliche and you’ve heard it before, but putting your thoughts down on paper really does help. With these lists, you are able to see what qualities overlap between schools to really narrow down what you really value. For me, I realized that I valued location, programs, cost, and the community the most! After I realized this, I was able to check boxes for each school and see if there was a school that checked them all off! This helped me to come to the conclusion that PSU was the school for me.

P.S. We are!