College Compass is proud to welcome guest contributor Jessica, a future college applicant, who will chronicle her experiences through the application process. Read on about the start of her college search process.
If you’re a high school sophomore like I am, you’ve probably had that moment where, all of a sudden, you realize that infinitely large expanse of time to think about and research colleges is, simply put, a lot shorter than you thought. In fact, you’ve got a year, maybe a year and a half, to decide.
When this epiphany crashed over my head, I figured I should go to the less-than-aptly-named College Room at school for advice. They told me to talk to my guidance counselor, who told me to talk to my homeroom teacher, who told me to go to the college room. So instead, I redirected my search to the College Board website, since they’d been sending me spam about random things that aren’t colleges since I took the PSAT last fall (think “Planning your summer reading list” guides).
My first thought was, “Hey, this is pretty cool.” They had elaborate search options to find your dream college, personality tests to help you choose a major, and a career center so you could see what that major was actually good for. Only then, it went from cool to blatantly annoying in about two seconds (at least, the college search function did. The other stuff actually was fairly useful).
My first search returned no results, and it took me twenty minutes of reviewing and switching up my search criteria to discover the problem: I’d accidentally checked the box specifying “no fraternities or sororities” instead of the “I don’t care either way” option. Still, though, I got only 7 schools, three of which were community colleges in California (I think. Their websites were all down). The others were universities in the middle of nowhere. Now, I may very well end up at U of Midnowhere, but it certainly wouldn’t be my dream school.
After an hour of undying frustration, I managed to get a sizable search. However, I encountered another problem: after viewing the page for the first listed school, there was no way to get back to the search page. Hitting the browser back button only sent me to “This webpage has expired,” and so I spent ten more minutes trying to find my search. The rest of my time of the website continued in a similar fashion.
The end result? I’ve spent some six hours researching colleges, majors, and careers, and still have no idea where or what I’d like to study, and where it’ll get me in life.
I returned to school determined to find useful information. The best I got was a bit of advice: “Don’t be a teacher, you’ll have students pestering you with questions all day.” Remind me not to approach grumpy teachers in May. Eventually, I talked to some seniors in my orchestra class about how they’d chosen their colleges, and got a bit of helpful advice on narrowing and widening your search. Overall, school was a bizarrely useless resource.
In any case, I suppose my college search begins here.