High School Senior’s Guide to Choosing the Right College

Dear Little Sis,

About this time last year, I had already decided where I was going to go to college, but I had always kind of known in the back of my mind. That’s not the case for everyone, however. Choosing which college to attend can be scary and I know it seems like a really big decision to make. This is where you will be spending four years of your life. It’s the place that will become your new home, and the people there will become your new family. I wanted to share with you what things I took into consideration when deciding to attend Clemson.

Like I said, I had known for awhile that Clemson was the place for me, but I had a number of reasons why it was at the top of my list. I want you to know, no matter where you decide to go to college, it will be okay. You will still find friends, and have a wonderful education no matter what. These tips I have listed below are just to help guide you in the right direction if you have no idea where to start.

1. Can you visualize yourself there?

Take a second and close your eyes. Think of one college you are considering. Now, can you see yourself walking around campus, using the resources, studying in different spaces? When I was considering colleges, I liked to think about whether I could see myself studying in the library, or using the outdoor spaces.

2. Do you relate to the students?

I toured a number of universities that I felt were great places, but I couldn’t always see myself “fitting in the crowd” so to speak. Did you notice what type of students were walking around campus? Could you see yourself being friends with any of them? Another thing to think about is how competitive students at the school seemed to be. I toured Duke University, and really liked the campus, but I felt the environment was a little too competitive for me.

3. Are they known for the program you wish to study?

Don’t choose a college just because you like it. Really consider if it’s the right place for you academically. I know college is a place where we want to enjoy ourselves and meet lifelong friends, but it’s also a time to learn all the things essential to our future careers. Therefore, take some time to research the degree program you want to go into. Look up the course guide on google to get an idea of the classes offered, and things like that.

4. What kind of education are you trying to get?

Consider if you want to attend a liberal arts university or not. I personally wasn’t looking for a liberal arts education because I wanted to major in genetics, but I think it can be important to incorporate some form of liberal arts into your education. That being said, if you’re not entirely sure about your major, liberal arts colleges or larger universities can sometimes offer more flexibility in changing majors. I also minored in writing at Clemson, but it was a little bit harder to do because I went to a very STEM heavy school, so keep that in mind as well.

5. Is the campus appealing?

Campus appeal was probably my biggest deciding factor. My number one desire was a college with a lot of outdoor space. This was ultimately what drew me to Clemson. The campus has an amphitheatre and a number of outdoor study locations. Not only was there a lot of outdoor space, but the buildings were easy to find and the campus itself was easy to spot. Interior buildings were kept up nicely as well. Keep in mind what kind of campus you are looking for. A lot of campuses located in cities can be hard to identify. If that is what you want, great! Just try to think about what kind of university environment you want.

6. Is the location appealing?

This is different from the look of campus, but instead the look of the surrounding area. Clemson has a lake, tons of hiking trails, and a cute little town all within walking distance. It is in a remote area and is basically all there is in town. Luckily, it is only a short drive from Greenville, which offers a number of great things for young college students. Think about what kind of college town you want. Are you looking to be right in the city? Would you prefer a more remote area?

7. Do most students live on campus?

It can be easy to overlook this one, but it’s really important. It’s not something I originally considered, but I did eventually give it some thought. Just to put things into perspective, I lived with three other girls this semester and two of us will be staying on campus for sophomore year and two others will be moving off campus. This means that two of my friends will now be harder to access. It also means fewer people on campus on the weekends. Overall, most students do tend to stay on campus at Clemson, but not as many as I would have liked. Look up some numbers on google and think about how those numbers might affect the community on campus.

8. Are sports important to you?

Sooooo, I go to Clemson, and as many of you probably know, it’s a huge football college. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Clemson Tigers, and the football games are so fun. I consider myself so lucky to be a part of the Tiger community and the family it offers. However, I wasn’t ever a sports person before going to college. It’s important to note if you aren’t really a sports person, you might not want to choose a college like Clemson. The loyalty to the team and game attendance can be demanding, but it can also be a lot of fun. Like I said, I wasn’t really a sports watcher, but going to Clemson made me one, and I’ve honestly enjoyed it. Either way, just think about how sports might impact the weekends on campus. .

9. Are there a number of resources available to students?

College is hard, guys. Even if you think high school was a breeze, or you’re an A student, trust me when I say, college is HARD. You will want all of the resources you can get. This means, academic advising, free tutoring, essay coaches, career coaches, graduate school assistants, study abroad counselors. All of these resources will help you stay on top of your academics and succeed in college. Just check with the universities you are considering and see what free resources they offer students.

10. Are students giving back to the university after graduation?

Not everyone may care about this, but it was extremely important to me. I wanted to attend a university that was built on community. I wanted to be at a place where people loved their college so much, that they were willing to stay a part of it after graduating. I came from a high school that really pushed family and community building and because of that, I wanted a university that offered something similar. Clemson has the best community I have ever seen and the willingness of people to come together and give back to the university is incredible.

Like I said, I had known for awhile that Clemson was the place for me, but I had a number of reasons why it was at the top of my list. I want you to know, no matter where you decide to go to college, it will be okay. You will still find friends, and have a wonderful education no matter what. These tips I have listed below are just to help guide you in the right direction if you have no idea where to start.

  1. What is the size of campus?
  2. What will be the overall cost of attending?
  3. Do you know anyone else attending the university?
  4. What kind of student organizations exist on campus? What percentage of students are in greek life?
  5. What is the retention rate?
  6. What percent of students graduate?

If you have any other questions about what made me choose Clemson specifically, or would like some additional help in your own college decision, please feel free to email me ashleyardele@gmail.com or comment below.

With Love,

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Ashley Ardele

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