So You’re Not Going to Your Top Choice? Now What?

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Hearing back from colleges is obviously one of the most frustrating processes to go through, especially in the competitive world that we live in today. After nearly a year of tours, information sessions, applications, guidance counselor meetings, and standardized testing, you finally get a letter from your top pick that hopefully reads something like, “Congratulations! I’m pleased to offer you admission into the Class of 2017!” However, I’m sure many of you have found out by now that it doesn’t always go your way. So now you’re stuck going to your second, third, or even your last choice school and you might still be unhappy. But guess what? You don’t have to be.

So why listen to me? I’ve been through it. I got rejected from my top choice in the early decision round of applicants and I know how much it sucks. Getting your hopes up and then having them crushed hurts, but it’s up to you to not let it keep you down. Now that you’ve found out where you’re going, you have to make the best of it if you haven’t accepted that already. So how do you do it? Here are some ways:

  1. Stay positive-It’s cliche and you’ve probably heard it before, but your attitude does make all the difference. If you go into it negative, then you’re going to try and find everything wrong with the situation, when you could be making the best of it. If you’re acting miserable, people won’t be as likely to go out and befriend you.
  2. You’re not the only one– Just look at the numbers. Schools don’t have a 100% acceptance rate. With the large number of people applying to a select few schools, you are bound to meet others in the same boat as you. So many of my friends, from home and college, were rejected from their top choice schools. If everybody that was rejected went in with a pessimistic attitude, college would be absolutely terrible.
  3. Remember why you applied to this school in the first place– You obviously chose it for a reason. Maybe it had a strong program in your field. Maybe it was in the city that you always dreamed of living in. Maybe it had the school spirit your high school lacked. Whatever the reason is, you didn’t just pick this school out of a hat. If you stay focused on the reasons why you applied, it will make your experience better.
  4. Join Teams/Clubs/Organizations/Greek Life– The easiest way to enjoy your time at school is to make friends. What easier way to do that than by joining a group of people who have a common interest? The more friends you make, the better college will be. If you like a particular sport, try and join that team! Every college has different levels of ability, so don’t feel discouraged if you’re not the best at it. If you want to rush, don’t let anything hold you back. It’s a good way to meet people and create a bond with them.
  5. Accept it– It’s hard to do and it’s a harsh reality, but it’s true. You just need to move on. Forget about all other schools and stop comparing yourself to them. If you just be happy that you were accepted to this school and you try your hardest, it will all work out in the end.
  6. If it really doesn’t work, transferring is an option– As much as I hate saying this, you can leave if you really want to. I was so close to transferring after first semester because I really didn’t give the school a chance. I can’t advise it enough, but you really have to try everything and use this as a last resort. Only transfer after you really have done everything you can to try and enjoy the school because it’s a huge commitment and involves a lot of work.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to make the most of your college years. If you don’t like something, change it. Be aggressive and do what you enjoy because that is what will make you happy in the end. And always remember that if it does get bad, there is always a way out. Whatever you choose to do in the end, make sure it makes you happy.

No Shame: Confessions of a Transfer Student

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So, you’ve made your college decision, you’re living on campus, and everything is going great. Right?

If you answered yes to the question above, congratulations! You have successfully picked the college you’ll spend the next four years at and that is a beautiful thing.

However, if you are like me, and you answered “no”, “not sure”, or “uhhh I have regrets!” to the question, keep reading.

You see previously I had talked about everything that led me to making my college decision. For those of you who missed it, I had a very short list of requirements that my ‘dream school’ must meet.

1) Small campus- I had decided long ago that large campuses just weren’t for me

2) Highly accredited- This was a no brainer, I wanted a degree from a university that would speak for itself.

3) In State- For me, this was especially important, I did not want to get hit with all of those out of state fees!

4) Far away from home- Although this is more of a personal reason, like most newly college bound kids, I wanted my independence and I wanted it now.

With those in mind, I made my choice and all the necessary preparations for my journey. I found a roommate, new friends, and had welcome week to make me feel at home. However, after the fireworks of flare had faded and the campus was back to the normal routine, it didn’t quite feel the same. My previous visits had all been during these so called “fluff and buff” weekends. In other words, I’d always managed to come exactly when they wanted me to and had only ever experienced the non-stop fun provided to make prospective students want to come. As I settled in to my campus routine, found a job, and made myself more at home, I became increasingly more aware that this was not at all the school for me. Yet, like most freshmen in my position, I denied myself the chance to even look anywhere else. I forced myself to try and enjoy it hoping it would get better but knowing all along that I had no desire and no drive at this school.

First semester came and went and these feelings didn’t change. Yet, I still didn’t tell anyone. I was ashamed. I had made my choice so early I thought admitting I had made the wrong choice would make me look lame weak. As the second semester neared its end and summer break began, I finally found the courage to tell my parents I didn’t want to go back.

And you know what?

They were totally supportive. Yep, that’s right, parents can actually be supportive. See, here’s the thing about parents and their parental brains, they know things. Parents have this extra sense when it comes to their kids and for the most part, it’s normally right on target. Mine, for instance, knew before I even left for school that I wouldn’t be happy, but they let me make my own decisions and find my own way.

So, all you prospective transfer students out there, take my advice:

1)Explore your options: talk to friends, family, and your advisor. Figure out a plan and be willing to allow things to change.

2)Make a change before you let things get out of control: there is nothing worse than doing less than your potential in school only to realize it’s because you weren’t happy.

And most importantly,

3) Allow yourself to realize it’s OK to change your mind, to switch schools, and to find something that really works for you. Being at a school you’re unhappy with is worse than making the call to change your surroundings.

Now, four semesters in to my college career, I have finally settled at a school that truly fits me. I actually ended up at a satellite campus of a bigger university, Indiana University-Kokomo, to be exact. More importantly, I’ve finally learned that I had nothing to be ashamed of . Picking the right school is a ridiculously tough decision and sometimes, the only way to know is to go and test the waters.

 

So, Where Are You Going?

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It’s the topic of discussion around dinner tables, online forums, and the hallways of high schools across the country: where are you going to go to college? As a sophomore, I can honestly say I made my decision pretty quickly. Well, at least the first time. Yes, you heard me, the first time.

You see, when I began my college search my sophomore year of high school I had narrowed down my choices to those that fit four major qualities: small, in state, good programs, and away from home. In my head, those were all that mattered in a prospective college. With those in mind, my search was relatively easy. I quickly weeded out the big universities and colleges both in and out of state. I figured out a long time ago that big campuses just weren’t for me and that I didn’t want to necessarily go out of state.I found my dream school shortly after my search began. It was perfect. The school was just far enough away to gain my independence, came highly accredited, and even had a study abroad program. Bonus!

I had decided right away that this was the school I would attend and with that, all other schools were simply out of the question.

Now some might say making a decision so early in your search can be a great thing: it gives you plenty of time to search for scholarships, sort out the roommate situation, and even scope out potential jobs in the area. Moving out on your own for the first time, whether in a dorm or in an apartment, is a huge change and allowing yourself time to plan for these changes is key to success.And they’re right! Making your decision early can make planning long term a lot easier.However, for me, that’s not what happened.

Due to the fact that I had eliminated all schools that weren’t my dream school, I missed out on the opportunities most people take for granted.

For example: college visits. As weird as it sounds, college visits actually do help you see what you do and don’t like about certain campuses. I missed on visiting other campuses because I limited myself to the idea of my dream school. Had I gone on more visits, I might have figured out that on campus living was not the right choice for me. Or that living 4+ hours away from my family isn’t exactly ideal for someone who is family centered. Sometimes I catch myself thinking back and wondering if I had taken more time, would I have ended up in the same place?

Despite the shortcomings from picking a school too early, it’s important to look at all of your options when making this decision. To combat college choice regret, go on as many college visits are your high school will allow and do your research After all, as you’ll see in my next post, being a transfer student can have its drawbacks.

Formatting Facebook for College Admission Process

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It used to be that social media sites such as Myspace, Xanga and Facebook were outlets people used to be social and interact for fun. Now, sites such as these are placed under a magnifying glass and are thoroughly dissected for employment and college admission. Today, the rule is to not post content on your social media sites that could negatively impact your online presence in any way. Why is this important to your college admission process? Because now, more than ever, Facebook is a one way ticket for anyone looking to get the ‘Big Scoop’ on Y-O-U. This means that college admission counselors may just be raking through your social media page with a fine tooth comb before sending that thick acceptance letter or thin sheet of rejection. Maybe there’s more you need to clean up besides just your college admission essay.

In recent news, potential employees have been denied positions or even removed from their current jobs because of things posted or said on their social media outlets. This is no different for college admission personnel denying acceptance to a student based off of their social media presence. In a survey taken by Loreal Lynch from Schools.Com, reports show that 80% of colleges visit their potential applicant’s social media sites (such as Facebook) to see if they “make the cut” for the admission process. Facebook, a viral social media networking site, has been a viral explosion to those everywhere.. and, well if you aren’t on it, that deems you a house under a rock in the middle of nowhere. Everyone and everybody has set their pace on Facebook, ranging from even grandparents across country who wish to connect with their grandchildren from afar. College admission “investigators” take this idea into consideration, and scour the internet in search of a quick peek at their applicant in question.

The survey also shows that the top three main outlets admission recruiters look for when checking out the 411 on a new applicant is Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. If your tweets aren’t private or protected and you’re spewing your favorite lyrics from a catchy rap song, you may want to re-think what you’re throwing up there. YOU may know that they’re lyrics, but will everyone else? For Facebook, you should always keep in mind that people of all ages and from all generations are now leveraging the outlet for more than just social interaction. Businesses are taking advantage of the highly populated network strategies to market their goods and services; offering coupons and deals to their “likers” only. This drives traffic and unites everyone to the site. Family members are joining in thousands everyday as a way to connect with family around the world. Old classmates are connecting as a “virtual high school reunion” of sorts and staying up to date with what’s going on in their new, adult lives.

If this news is worrisome to you, try switching it around and using your social media efforts as a way to ‘WOW’ recruiters and not scare them away. If you want to find a few cool ways to turn your social media efforts into resume boosters check out this blog we wrote a few weeks back with ideas on how to do so. Also remember to keep the things you would like to keep private, private. Only display the basics on Facebook and keep the personal things either off or protected. As for Twitter, either protect your tweets or keep it clean… you never know who could be retweeting or viewing your daily thoughts. For Youtube, turn this into a chance to be an entrepreneur and start doing reviews or blogs! Maybe you’ll find a niche in college advice to new freshman coming on campus.

If you’re interested in checking out more information about the study from Schools.com, click here to view the infographic and read more!

Writing That College Admission Essay

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Business School Admissions: Essay Strategy – Brainstorming #GMAT

When applying for colleges as a high school senior, it’s hard enough to choose which ones you want to make your ‘top three’ list. After you’ve visited your list of colleges and picked which ones suit you best, it’s time to apply. As you fill out those overwhelming applications, you get to the end to realize you have a 500 character limit to make yourself stand out in a carefully written, perfectly constructed essay. If you’ve never been fond of writing (or even if you were, for that matter) writing an application essay can be quite intimidating. There’s so many different ways you can show your personality and so many stories that really make you shine among the rest. But, how can you be sure that the topic you’re choosing is the best route to go?

The first thing to remember is not to include anything in your essay that could hurt and not help your chances of accepted admittance. Examples of this would be any drug, alcohol or partying usage. You want to pick stories that show growth and responsibility. If you don’t think that the particular story you pick will help people see the brightest sides of your mind and talents, omit it. Another thing to remember is that traveling is a wonderful, life changing experience. However, you don’t want to turn your application essay into a timeline of all the places you visited. Although interesting, this doesn’t show how you’re a perfect pick for given university.

The second thing to keep in mind is the given character limit. Most colleges follow the “Common Application” which is 500 characters and doubled space. The lines are blurry whether you can go over this limit or not, but it seems to be more favorable if you stick within the guidelines. Used by 488 different universities world-wide, the Common App allows high school students to apply to multiple universities online by using the same information. Sometimes, colleges will request supplements from the student, which is some further questioning or writing that the student will have to provide to complete the application process. Remember, you can always add additional information about yourself in the supplement portion of your application, so keep your main essay straight and to the point. If you want to show your comedic side, do so very slightly and in appropriate moderation. Don’t let your humor distract your readers from the main point of your essay. Be favorable and respectful.

The third and most important thing to remember about your essay is that your university may have guidelines that you have to follow. Maybe there is a set group of questions you must answer within your essay, or maybe there’s a particular topic or two they want you to choose from. Before you write your essay, make sure you know exactly what the guidelines are and what is expected from your essay. One of the biggest mistakes reported by admission counselors is students not fully covering the essay requirements noted by the university. This means that even if your essay is beautifully written, you may get points knocked off for not following directions properly.

When you’ve written an essay that you can be proud of (that follows all given requirements and character limits) make sure that you have a few eyes look over it for grammatical errors and fluidity. Having a few other people read over your essay allows them to pick up on any mistakes you may have made while writing. These extra eyes may be able to suggest a few edits or added bits of information to your essay that could really polish it up for submission. If you write your essay and don’t love it, keep writing a few more drafts until you write something you really love. Remember, this essay is a reflection of you, so add your own personal twist while still showing how great of a fit you’d make to the student body at the university you’re applying to.

Remember, if you’re struggling to write your essay on your own and need some help, feel free to head to your local library for some guidance. You can also refer to online programs such as The Writing Faculty.Com to have a trained, one-on-one professional assist you with your writing. If you want help from someone you know, ask a teacher at school or even someone in your family. You’d be surprised how many great writers you have in your inner circle who would love to help you get accepted to that college of your dreams.