"The most helpful thing for me would've been having a better sense of myself. Here I was about to enter a new stage of life ... and I really wasn't sure what I was supposed to be looking for. The hardest part for me was being able to search for both a school and a home."
Matt U., 23, Pleasantville, New York
While I can't help you find yourself, I can give you some help with looking for a college that will be a school and a home. I talk a lot about finding a college or university that fits your needs and this is exactly why. You are searching for a place that is going to help you grow academically and socially for the next four years, so it is necessary to find that right balance.
Oftentimes, there is a debate about finding a college that is rigorous academically but not socially stimulating, or giving up a demanding academic life to have a good social experience on campus. You know your personality, so you need to find the campus that matches it.
In my opinion, and there may be people who dispute this, the academics will come no matter where you go to college. Obviously prestige and scholastic awards are great, but at the end of the day if you work hard, you will get that degree in Biology, English, or Art. While some universities have better facilities for certain majors, and you should be no means ignore that, you could find two or three universities with very comparable programs.
When academics can't be compared because they are virtually the same, it is necessary to find the university that fits your personality and your extra-curricular desires. If you want to excel both in academics and student life, then you will want to find a university that balances that well. When you step onto campus and speak with students and professors, you can get a pretty good impression of what the campus is known for. Additionally, picking up a school newspaper will help you see what the university wants to put in focus: academic accolades or on-campus events.
When I was deciding on my final undergraduate choice, both schools were pretty comparable in terms of everything: both had French programs, study abroad options, and opportunities to dance. My decision, however, came down to how I felt on the campus and how I thought I would fit into my new "home." One university was a money magnet, many of the students came from wealthier families and there was more of an individualistic approach to the interactions with students (at least what I saw on my visits to campus). The other was a tradition-based college with an emphasis on community connection among students, administrators, and faculty. I loved both, and I still do, but I had to pick the university where I would fit in, feel comfortable, and be able to make my home!
There are a lot of options you need to weigh when you finally make that decision, but you need to go with your gut feeling on what college is going to be your best school and best home!
enjoy the chase,