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Researching Colleges: Defining Your Own Values

college humor

Completing college applications is probably the most stressful part of high school. Students not only look for the materials needed to apply, but also look closely at themselves to figure out the path they want to take or create. Often, seniors are conflicted by the question “what do I want to do?” Like most students, I do not know what I necessarily want to do in college or after that, but I do know the woman who I want to become: fearless and an inspiration to many.

Getting started is always the hardest part because you need every bit of motivation and patience to sit through hours of research. Whether on school location or tuition, the college process is very tedious. I started considering schools and programs during the first semester of my junior year. I began by researching every possible aspect of a school that interested me, ranging from school programs to clubs to school traditions. Eventually, I found myself indulging in countless information of a variety of colleges.

The college admission process can be broken down into four steps: preparing, researching, applying (in both college applications and financial aid), and deciding. Most seniors would be in the application stage right now.

There are many factors to take into account when researching and preparing for college applications. For instance, people have different preferences for school size.  Some like small schools with under 3,000 students enrolled, while others like larger colleges with 10,000 or more students enrolled. All students have their own preferences, and whether it is on school size, sports, or clubs offered, it is important to keep these preferences in mind when applying to colleges. I have a checklist of what I am looking for in a university: a medium to large size campus, diversity, a general school for science and art studies, engineering programs, numerous clubs and organizations, a strong sense of community, and leadership opportunities. While researching colleges, I looked at more than 50 engineering universities and liberal arts schools. I want a university that can embody everything.

The work is tedious, but, in the end, every essay, every late night, and every application was worth it. Throughout the process, I learned not just the value of each university but my own values as well. The college process opened my eyes to the limitless opportunities available and my own inner capabilities as I made the effort to intersect my values with the values of a university.

Written by the MoCo Student Staff Columnist Elizandra Vicente of Wheaton High School

Artwork by the MoCo Student Staff Graphic Artist Natasha Campbell of Blair High School 


About The MoCo Student

In 2012, Student Member of the Board of Education John Mannes created a countywide press network to help build a conduit to share fresh and relevant information written by youth to the wider Montgomery County student body.

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