- Consider the town/city that your potential college is located in.
Yes, it is important to love your college campus itself, but the city it is located in means a lot, too. Not only will you be going to school there, but also you will be a member of the local community. Don’t underestimate how much the community will mean to you. You’ll also mean something to the community if you choose to. I enjoy being involved with the Fort Worth community whether I’m dining in Sundance Square or babysitting for TCU alumni.
- Don’t get too discouraged if you don’t get as much scholarship money as you were hoping for.
Ok, finances are tough to talk about because they are different for everyone, but hear me out on this. You can make your dream college affordable (for you or your parents, whoever is paying). Once you get to your college and complete your freshman year, you’ll find more scholarship opportunities. More scholarship doors open up if you work hard your freshman year. I once stopped by the TCU Office of Financial Aid to say hello to someone and I saw a booklet of scholarship opportunities for current students. I completed some of the applications online and am waiting to hear back. There are also scholarships available if you choose to study abroad (more on that below). Start searching for external scholarships if you haven’t yet, you’ll be surprised by what you find!
- Start considering whether or not you’ll want to study abroad.
Research all of the schools on your list and find out if they have study abroad programs that interest you. Also consider the fact that you might change your mind (those of you who DON’T want to study abroad, I bet somewhere along the way, you’ll be convinced otherwise). I studied abroad last summer, the summer after my freshman year. With the John V. Roach Honors college, I went on a study abroad trip called Cultural Routes. We traveled to and through Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. Without TCU’s JVR Honors College, I would never have had the unique experience that I did.
- Talk to people you know who attend the universities you are interested in.
Four seniors at the high school I went to (Palmer Ridge) have contacted me over this winter break to ask questions about TCU. We went out for coffee and I was able to tell them things that they couldn’t have learned from just browsing the website. If you have a connection to someone at a school you are considering, don’t be afraid to reach out to him or her with your questions. In the words of TCU Admissions Counselor Heath Einstein, “ask questions of those who are not hired by admissions offices to give you the ‘right’ answers.”
- Don’t stress about which major to choose.
There is plenty of time to consider what you’d like to major in, but look for a school that offers several majors that interest you. I’ve known for several years that I wanted to major in Political Science, but I didn’t yet know what I wanted to double major in. TCU gave me a chance to explore a variety of classes and test out both the Criminal Justice and Economics majors. You might think you are sure of your choice in major, but trust me, college is life changing and you might change your mind about things. If you wanted, you could spend your entire first semester at TCU working on the core curriculum while you continue to figure out what you’d like to major in.
- Continue working hard/ don’t get senioritis.
You might think you don’t have to work hard anymore. Here’s why you’re wrong: the habits you make in the end of high school carry on with you to college. Your study skills are important and your work ethic is key to success. Learn how to get all your homework done on time and stop the habit of procrastination before it has a chance to beat you up in college.
- Support your high school friends in their college decision-making processes.
Not only will you learn to be a supportive friend (which you do a lot of in college), but hopefully your friends will return the favor and support your choice in a college or university.
- Visit the schools on your list – it is the BEST way to help you finalize your decision.
But don’t just visit. Talk to your tour guide, talk to students walking around campus, set up an appointment with a department that interests you, and ask questions. When visiting TCU, try to attend a Monday at TCU for a full day of activities on campus. For dates, look here: http://www.admissions.tcu.edu/Visit-TCU/Monday-at-TCU Visit a variety of different college campuses to determine what you like – big, small, in-state, out-of-state, rural, city, spread out, or compact. Try to visit while class is in session so that you can feel what a typical day is like. I visited TCU during their spring break, and I didn’t even get out of the car because no one was around.
- Cherish your time with your family.
Before you know it, you won’t live with your mom and dad and siblings anymore. When I got to college, I realized how much I missed my parents. I took for granted my time with my family. It took being 700+ miles away from my parents to make me truly appreciate everything they do for me. Don’t waste your last months at home. Thank your family for EVERYTHING.
- Choose your dream school. Take a risk. In the words of my friend Blake, “Go to TCU.”
I’m not going to tell you I think you should pick TCU – I think you should pick the school that best fits YOU. Pick the college or university that has everything you hope for, a surrounding city that you could see yourself enjoying, and opportunities that interest you.
Julia is a sophomore from Monument, Colorado majoring in Political Science and Economics. Her involvement around campus includes being a TCU ambassador/tour guide, a steering committee member of the Chancellor’s Leadership Program, the vice president of TCU’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter, a student of the Honors College, a former intern in the Government Affairs department of the Chancellor’s office, House Chair of the sorority Kappa Kappa Gamma, a Eucharistic Minister for TCU’s Catholic Community, and a delegate on the Model United Nations team. This summer she will be an orientation leader and is excited to meet the Class of 2020!