Decision time is here: Which college is right college?

Senior Daze

Posted: Wednesday, October 17, 2001

"What are your plans are after high school?"

That frightening question is enough to make any senior student chime into a peppy conversation. For the majority of seniors, those words are now becoming a scary, but joyous, reality check.

Application deadlines, scholarships, awards and standardized tests are all approaching quicker than you think.

College seems to be the topic of lunchtime talk, a conversation starter and what's on everybody's mind this time of year.

For me, ever since I was practically still in diapers, it was a known fact that college would be my destiny after high school. I grew up with thoughts of heading off to a state school somewhere to live the opportunity-plus, adventurous world of college life, despite my lack of knowledge of what that meant.

It wasn't until my third year of high school that I really began to decipher the components of college-seeking. Choosing a school just right for me would come down to location, a school where there would be a strong departments for my planned major, a good class size, and last, but definitely not least, the cost.

For a few seniors, there's nothing more to say about college talk except for when they will receive an acceptance letter due to their successful early application from one of their three top choice schools. Others have just returned home from a week-long college trip outside our faraway state, with new aspirations and hopes of attending the smaller version of Princeton or Harvard.

For me and the majority of my classmates, however, the location of our dream school is brewing in the very middle of a college-picking storm blur.

Maybe you found the picture-perfect campus, but the school doesn't excel in the department you hope to achieve a degree in. There's the University of Oregon with a championship track team, but after taking the tour and examining the facts, you just don't seem to fit in with the artsy, liberal type.

And then you came across the absolutely perfect college, complete with suite dorm rooms, Division 1 athletics and a small student-to-teacher ratio. The only catch is you can't afford the $30,000 per year tuition.

I'm sure you haven't forgotten about the dozens of comments from your family, friends and mentors.

"You should really consider staying home the first year." "What about the cost? You don't have that kind of money." "Wouldn't that be fun to go together?" "Have you considered a private, religious school?" "What about your future? You need to attend the very best you can!"

They all want what's best for you, what would be the most fun, where you'll get the best education for your dollar and where you'll be in a great atmosphere.

It's enough to make you scream, "What about what I want?" And that's exactly what it really comes down to.

For the last couple weeks, all the discussion about college has been one of the most confusing times of my life, and I don't think I'm alone here. You don't want to make a wrong decision, but what's the right one?

You want to get a good education, but you want to have fun. There's almost a million things, at least it seems like it, to think about and they must be put in a priority order.

When it comes right down to the day, you're gonna be the one leaving for that school. You're gonna be the one up all night for that term paper, and you're gonna be the one living on that campus. The decision is one to deeply consider, and it won't be an easy one.

I guess the best advice is: Keep your priorities in line. If you do, the college that's just right for you is likely to become more clear.

Shamra Bauder is a senior at Kenai Central High School who has worked as an intern at the Peninsula Clarion.

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