Okay, first of all, STOP FREAKING OUT! (If you aren't yet, you will be at some point.) The beginning of your senior year of high school is full of conflicting emotions: You're tired of being around 14-year-olds, excited to park in the special lot. And if you're anything like I was four years ago, choosing that perfect college seems like the biggest task in the world right now. Trust me, it's not. As someone who is almost through the collegiate woods, I can tell you that not a lot about your life as a college student will end up the way you envision it. But that's okay. Don't be afraid to not go to your dream school. Don't scoff at going to a community college. And please, whatever you do, do notpick a college based on that cute boy/girl you started dating two months ago. Chances are, you won't make it through the summer. Most important, don't get boxed into a preconceived notion of what your college experience has to be.
So, if you're knee deep in college applications, your head is spinning and your freak-out temperature is 110 degrees, take a little time out to play our Don't Freak Out game. Answer the questions to help ease the anxiety of finding a college that's a good fit for you and your wallet. Consider things you may not have thought of, and try to find some comfort in the absurd stress of it all. You'll make it, if you stop freaking out.
* * *
SAY IT WITH ME
AS LONG AS YOU'RE HERE
OKAY, KEEP GOING
OKAY MAMA'S BABY. WE'RE GIVING YOU ONE YEAR.
APPLICATION: ARE YOU FREAKING OUT BECAUSE SOME OF YOUR FRIENDS HAVE ALREADY APPLIED - AND BOUGHT THE SWEAT SHIRT - FOR THEIR DREAM SCHOOLS? WELL, GOOD FOR THEM, BUT IT'S OKAY IF YOU DECIDE TO FORGO THE EARLY ADMISSION PROCESS. DO RESEARCH FOR YOUR PARTICULAR SCHOOL, THOUGH. UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA'S DEADLINE FOR THE 2011-12 YEAR IS NOV. 1 FOR UNDERGRADUATE FRESHMEN, BUT UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL FLORIDA'S ISN'T UNTIL MAY 1. SEE PAGE 7
HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU?
TEST SCORES: THE BEST ADVICE I CAN OFFER ON THIS FAIRLY STRESSFUL TOPIC IS TO NOT TAKE THESE TESTS LIGHTLY; THE SAT AND ACT ARE NO JOKE. BUT (HAVE I SAID DON'T FREAK OUT LATELY?) REMEMBER, YOU CAN STILL GET INTO MANY GREAT COLLEGES WITHOUT GETTING PERFECT SCORES ON THESE TESTS, IF YOU HAVE THE OTHER GOODS TO BALANCE OUT A LESS-THAN-STELLAR SCORE. GET TO KNOW YOUR STRENGTHS. BAD TEST TAKER? STRIVE FOR THE HIGHEST GPA YOU CAN. IS YOUR "C" IN ALGEBRA BRINGING THAT DOWN? FOCUS ON EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES AND WRITING AN AWESOME ADMISSIONS ESSAY. VERY FEW STUDENTS ARE PERFECT AT ALL THREE; YOU DON'T NEED TO BE, EITHER. SEE PAGE 10
MANY HIGH SCHOOL GRADS GO TO COMMUNITY COLLEGE FOR TWO OR MORE YEARS. IT MAKES GETTING INTO A FOUR-YEAR SCHOOL EASIER.
GREAT! WHO'S PAYING FOR COLLEGE?
WHAT ARE YOU DOING? GET BACK IN THE FLOW CHART!
IF YOU HAPPEN TO GET INTO AN ELITE SCHOOL, BE SURE TO FREAK OUT, BUT IN A GOOD WAY.
SEE PAGES 6- 7
SEE PAGE 11
GO TO TB-TWO.COM AND CLICK ON THE NEXT BUTTON FOR TONS MORE COLLEGE INFORMATION.
THE BUS? ARE YOU SERIOUS?
IS YOUR FAMILY YOUR WORLD?
DO YOU MAKE FRIENDS EASILY?
WHAT ARE YOU, SOME KIND OF HERMIT?
IS IT BECAUSE YOUR PARENTS ARE RICH?
DON'T UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF SCHOLARSHIPS. APPLY FOR ANYTHING YOU CAN GET YOUR HANDS ON. SEE PAGE 10
DO YOU HAVE A HARVARD/YALE POSTER IN YOUR BEDROOM?
DID YOUR MOM/DAD/GRANDFATHER GO TO THIS POSTER SCHOOL?
DO YOU ACTUALLY WANT TO GO TO THIS SCHOOL?
IS ONE OF YOUR REASONS: FAMILY PRESSURE, EVERYONE ALREADY THINKS YOU'RE GOING THERE, OR YOU WANT TO BRAG ABOUT THE NAME?
IF THE SCHOOL IS THE BEST PLACE TO GO FOR WHAT YOU WANT TO DO, GREAT. IF NOT, SAVE YOUR PARENTS $$$ AND STAY IN THE STATE.
WRONG ANSWER. THIS IS A ONE-WAY ROAD TO DISASTER. TURN AROUND AND COME UP WITH SOME NEW REASONS.
IS YOUR GPA ABOVE A 3.0?
ARE YOUR SAT OR ACT SCORES DECENT? A "GOOD" SCORE VARIES BY COLLEGE, BUT TRY TO USE YOUR JUDGMENT HERE.
YOU'D BETTER WORK ON THOSE EXTRA-CURRICULARS. JOIN THE SPANISH CLUB. BE A MATHLETE.
DO YOU WANT TO GO TO A FOUR-YEAR COLLEGE?
DO YOU WANT TO LIVE AT HOME FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE?
COME ON. REALLY?
MOST COLLEGE CAMPUSES WITH DORMS HAVE LAUNDRY MACHINES SO EASY TO USE I'M PRETTY SURE YOU COULD TRUST A MONKEY WITH YOUR DELICATES (OR YOUR MANLY MAN CLOTHES).
WOULD YOU MIND WALKING/RIDING THE BUS TO GET TO SCHOOL?
RELAX: TOMORROW AFTER SCHOOL, SCHEDULE ONE HOUR OF MINDLESS YOUTUBE VIDEO WATCHING.
RELAX: GRAB YOUR DOG (OR YOUNGER BROTHER, OR BOYFRIEND, OR IPOD) AND GO FOR A WALK AROUND YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD.
RELAX: GO TO TB-TWO.COM AND READ ABOUT AN IMAGINARY CONVERSATION WITH PRESIDENT OBAMA.
TOURS: THERE ARE A FEW WAYS TO GO ABOUT TOURING COLLEGE CAMPUSES:
1. EMPTY YOUR PARENTS' BANK ACCOUNT AND EMBARK ON A CROSS-COUNTRY ZILLION-COLLEGE ROAD TRIP.
2. TOUR A HANDFUL OF COLLEGES YOU'RE INTERESTED IN AND THEN APPLY TO THE ONES YOU LIKED.
3. APPLY TO A FEW COLLEGES, THEN GO AND SEE THE ONES YOU'RE MOST STRONGLY CONSIDERING.*
*RECOMMENDED. YOU WILL LIKELY MARVEL AT EVERY COLLEGE CAMPUS YOU SEE, BUT THEY BLUR TOGETHER AFTER ABOUT THREE TOURS SO YOU CAN DRIVE YOURSELF (AND YOUR PARENTS) CRAZY. PLUS, A FEW HOURS ON A CAMPUS IS NEVER A TOTALLY ACCURATE REPRESENTATION OF THE PLACE.