Chances are college decisions are to blame for all of your anxiety right now. After all, it probably feels like your entire life up to this moment has lead you to this decision, and the rest of your life will be determined by it. There's the pressure to pick the right school and have your entire future figured out. Then there's the idea that your entire world is going to crumble to pieces if you don't make the right choice. What's a girl to do?!
Take a breather, for one. Sure, choosing a college is most likely the biggest decision that you've ever had to make so far. But trust us when we say that it isn't the biggest decision of your life. Check out these five reasons why you'll be content wherever you decide to go to college!
1. College decisions impact the immediate future, but not necessarily the long-term future.
It’s easy to think that your college decision will entirely determine the course of the rest of your life. However, Judi Robinovitz, certified educational planner and founder of Score At The Top learning centers and schools, believes that this isn’t necessarily the case. "I would say... that the decision of which college to attend is a milestone decision, and the biggest one a senior would have made so far in her short life," Robinovitz says. "However, it’s a decision that impacts the immediate future, not necessarily the long-term future."
Although it's important to make your college decisions wisely, choosing the right college is just a first step. Sure, your college is going to determine how your next four years are going to pan out, who you'll become friends with, who you'll network with, what skills you'll gain and which internships you'll get. But in the long run, college is just the tip of the iceberg: imagine the many more lifelong friends and acquaintances you'll meet, the career that you'll choose and the job decisions that you'll make in your life.
"Choosing a major is probably a much bigger decision as that will determine [students'] future careers," Robinovitz says. "Choosing an internship or job is also a bigger decision as it has not only financial implications, but has the potential to impact many years of work experience and all the skills the student will gain in her career to impact the non-career aspects of her life, such as her social life, self-esteem, social consciousness, etc."
The college that you attend will influence these experiences, but they won't define them. College just lays down the foundation for many more decisions you'll be making in the future.
2. No matter where you go, you'll be able to gain real-world experience.
There will be plenty of resources at any school that will prepare you for life after college and help you make even bigger decisions, like which career path to take. According to Reyna Gobel, a student loan expert and author of CliffsNotes Graduation Debt: How to Manage Student Loans and Live Your Life, students can reach career goals no matter which colleges they attend.
"The biggest and smartest decision a high school student really makes is to put full effort into career exploration," Gobel says. "Whatever school they choose, they need to be in touch with career services and always think about internships. Getting some real-world experience and cementing career goals isn't just important, it's vital."
At most colleges, career centers offer opportunities for students to participate in mock interviews, network with alumni, meet with potential employers, attend resume-building workshops, learn about potential careers and jobs and engage in other activities that prepare them for their dive into the real world, no matter where their starting points are.
3. There are academic and social opportunities at every college.
Every school has its own unique student body and opportunities. No matter which college you end up at, you'll have the chance to explore so many new choices and find your own niche on campus.
"There isn't a school in the world without opportunities," Gobel says. "I would be a different person if I decided to go to the prestigious school I originally planned on attending. It ended up that at the schools I chose, my ambition and experience stood out. I had professors that mentored me."
Gobel believes that you can better create good experiences for yourself by getting to know your professors and the activities offered at your school. Often, more important than your college decision itself is what you decide to do once you’re at college—the clubs you're in, the major you pursue, the friends you make, the classes you take, the activities you're involved in, etc. The important thing is to try new things and find out what you’re passionate about.