College contagion

Application, end-of-the-year stress infects student body

The symptoms are present. Seniors shuffle through the halls like zombies, brains drained of all inspiration after piles of scholarship and admissions essays. Juniors are wide-eyed as they rush to plan the next four years of their lives. And sophomores and freshmen are blissfully unaware of what’s to come. As a self-proclaimed college aficionado, I’ve learned a few things over the years to ease the stress of the whole process.

By Caroline Utz

Take a little trip

Here’s a secret: every college looks perfect in a brochure. They fill the pages with diversity, extraordinarily green grass, and old, important-looking buildings to sway prospective students into applying. The only way to tell if the university is really picturesque is to visit. It may seem bright and inviting on glossy paper, but actually being on campus can be a totally different story. In the brochure, admissions officers may stress fun excursions to NYC and Philadelphia when the school is actually smack dab in the middle of Amish country (horse and buggy included). Juniors and seniors have three excused college visits a year anyway. What more can you ask for?

It’s easy as 1, 2, 3

Not all colleges are created equal. Every school is looking for a different type of student, and that’s reflected in acceptance rates. Divide schools into three simple categories: safety schools, good fits, and reaches. Apply to a variety of schools from each category (focusing on good fits), and you will end up somewhere that’s perfect for you. Even if you’ve heard horror stories about the student that applied to a dozen universities and only got into one, applying to colleges that reflect the type of student you are, rather than just the Ivies, will increase your chances of getting into schools that are right for you. Though it seems like you have to cure cancer and create a non-profit group before senior year to get into the best universities in the country, a good college experience can be found anywhere as long as you take advantage of available opportunities

There’s still time

 If someone else asks me what I’m going to do with a degree in English Literature, I might scream. I have absolutely no idea. I’m not even sure if that will still be my major at the end of four years. 50 percent of college students who have declared a major, change it at least once before they graduate, according to Dr. Fritz Grupe, founder of MyMajors.com. If you’ve always known you want to be a chemical engineer, more power to you. But for those of us who aren’t so sure of ourselves, college is a time for discovery. I can try classes in subjects I’ve never even heard of before, and flip-flop between majors until I find something I really enjoy. I’m only eighteen- I don’t have to plan out the rest of my life just yet.

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