CollegeApp Chick

A college student and self proclaimed college app junkie. Determined to give the best advice, relevant news, and simple
solutions.


Email me at:
CollegeAppChick@gmail.com

You’re the one that matters.

So surely by now you’ve heard of Kwasi Enin, a high school senior who was accepted into all of the Ivy League schools.

You know what? It shouldn’t matter. You shouldn’t care. It’s amazing for him, and statistically it was bound to happen to someone at some point. So rock on Kwasi!

However, this news story shouldn’t matter to you. It shouldn’t change your application plans. It shouldn’t make you feel inferior. It shouldn’t do anything other than make you think, “Wow. Good for him.”

Because he is him, and you are you.

And when it comes to your college decisions, you’re the only one that matters.

It doesn’t matter if your friends are all going to school A, if you are in love with school B, go to school B.

It doesn’t matter if your parent’s met at one school and are huge donors. If you’re in love with their rival school, go to the rival.

If you got into a “brand name” school and you would rather attend the school that fits you better, pick the school that fits you better.

If your teachers all say you should take out loans to go to school A, but you’d rather take your full ride at school B, they’re not the ones taking out the student loans. They’re not the ones who will have to pay them off. Take the full ride, and laugh your way to the bank (or the not-bank because you won’t have loans).

If your cousin got into every school he applied to, and you only got into one of your matches, it doesn’t matter. Your cousin is awesome, you’re also awesome. Where you got into college doesn’t change or value who you are as a person.

As I’ve said a million times, if you want people to be impressed, do something impressive. Getting into a school is impressive for about 2 months, after the initial shock wears off, mentioning it to people is braggy and annoying. You’re going to be surrounded by people who also did that, so you’ll need to distinguish yourself further. And if you go to a smaller named school, you can be equally impressive. Where you go to school matters a lot less than what you actually do with that education.

So screw them, focus on you

One of the best pieces of advice I got when touring schools was pick the people.

After you graduate you won’t remember how nice your dorm was, how great the food was, or how famous one of your professors was (even if the TA taught the class).

What you will remember are the friends you made. You’ll remember your freshman roommate. You’ll remember who you went to your first college party with. You’ll remember the friends who pulled an all nighter with you and kept you sane. 

You’re not going to keep in touch with your favorite table in the library, but you will keep in touch with the people who sat there with you.

A school is made up of the people who go there. Anything else is secondary.

Your friends, the people in your clubs, the other students in your major, your neighbors those will be the things that will make your experience.

A campus tour will try to dazzle you with the architecture and statistics, but they ignore the most important part. It’s all about who you’re going to school with, not where you’re going.

When you visited did you talk to people who appealed to you? If you sat in on a class, did the people participating make the class seem welcoming or imposing? Did people seem welcoming?

Yes, of course you need to have the things you want. You need your activities, you need your major. But one school is very much like another, and the differences will be made from the people who you go with.

Any perks, any pretty baubles, any facilities are great. But they won’t change your experience as much as being with the right people will.

College Truth: Uh yeah, you do.


One of the biggest rumors I was told about college is that you don’t ever really need to go to class. You can usually just do the readings, or have a schedule set up with your friends so that each of you only goes once a week and takes notes for the others.

Compared to high school, in college attendance is less policed. College professors aren’t going to hunt you down or give you detention for skipping their class.

However, they might fail you. Either outright or with the way they set up their class.

So even if on paper you can skip, here’s a few reasons you DO need to go to class:

1. Three Strikes And You’re Out
The most common attendance policy I’ve seen in college is the “three strikes” (or two strikes or one strike) policy. Basically, you have a set number of absences, and if you exceed those your grade gets sharply reduced or you outright fail.

This might look like it’s going to give you a free pass to skip on those Ferris Bueller-esque days where you simply can’t make it to class. Don’t do this. You might have extenuating circumstances.

I have a class where you get one absence, and if you exceed that your grade gets reduced 10 points for every additional absence. I needed to use that absence for a mandatory college-sponsored event. But then I had a death in the family earlier this semester and had to miss an additional 2 days of school.
My professor was nice about my extenuating circumstances and is letting me do an extra paper (1000 words) to make up for my absence because I physically could not help missing an extra day of class.

Don’t use your “Freebies” lightly. You might need them.


2. Pop Quizzes, Pop Papers, and Attendance Tests

Even if a professor doesn’t technically take attendance, there are ways to keep our buts in the chairs. Namely, sneak attendance.

I have a professor who routinely gives attendance tests. It’s a big lecture, and every so often he’ll tell you to take out a piece of paper, write your name on it, and pass it in. That’s how he takes attendance.
I had another professor who gave pop papers, where he’d make you write an essay in class and reduced anyone who didn’t turn it in’s grade.
And some professors will go the positive route and give extra credit for showing up on certain days (at random).

It will always help your grade to go to class. And on that note

3. You Want Your Professor To Know Who You Are

This one is important. You need to go to class so your professor knows your name. It will help your grade. If it’s a big lecture, you need to go to office hours and introduce yourself. 

4. They Will Give Test Hints

It’s true that some professors will test from their powerpoints. But most professors will include stuff only in lecture on their tests. Or they’ll wink wink nudge nudge that something is important.

5. You’re At College To Get An Education

College is expensive. A lot of the time it comes out to over a thousand dollars per credit. So if you skip a class, you’re wasting around a hundred dollars (and that’s if you’re in-state). 
You’re there to learn. You’re also there to make friends and join clubs and go on adventures. But you have plenty of free time to do that. 

Go to class. 

By now you’ve probably checked out a ton of “Class of 2018” Facebook pages.

These pages are great! I actually found my roommate/BFF through my class of ’15 page.

However… There is a trap you don’t want to fall into.

Every single facebook group will have “That Kid”

This is a universal thing. Ask your friends in college now. They’ll all know exactly who it was. They’ll remember his/her name.

And it won’t be in a good way.

That kid is the one who comments on everything, generally abuses the page, and just makes a name for themselves as the facebook kid. It will be a reputation they cannot shake.

So seriously. Don’t be that kid.

 Here’s how to avoid it.

Don’t Comment On Everything

Seriously. I know you’re excited and you want to get to know people who have the same interests as you. That’s fine. However, limit yourself to maybe 3-5 comments per day. If you are having an interesting conversation with someone on the page, take it to a Facebook Message (this is how I met my aforementioned roommate). It’s more personal and way less annoying.

Don’t Try To Unite Everyone

Don’t be that kid who tries to make a class T-Shirt or actively tries to start a new club before you even get there. Don’t start a “countdown” or a “daily fun fact.”
I know you’re excited, but it’s not cute, it’s annoying.

Don’t Write Essays

Short posts only. Don’t rant. Don’t write anything that requires “read more.” Nobody will take the time to read the whole thing.

Don’t Try To Be A “Cool” Version Of Yourself

It’s much better to just be genuine and be yourself. Be a little bit of a dork if that’s who you are.

Don’t Name Drop Things That Aren’t Walk On
Basically, if you want to rush don’t mention specific organizations. You can say you want to join an A Capella group, you shouldn’t say “Oh I really want to be in ____.”  It will be really embarrassing if you don’t get in, don’t risk it.

Don’t Write Just To Write

Nobody is going to read it. Only comment if you have something to add. Introduction posts are shouting into the void.

Don’t Talk About Doing Every.Single.Thing

You can say you want to try things. You can say you’d like to go Greek or sing A Capella or do Mock Trial. But don’t be the kid who says “I’m going to be a tour guide and star in the shows and rush a fraternity and also be president of the class”
It’s obnoxious. Don’t do it.

Don’t Say “OMG I Love Everyone In This Group So Much More Than My High School”

You haven’t met them yet. Don’t do it.

Don’t be Racist/Sexist/Etc 

People WILL remember it. Don’t have that be your first impression. Or any impression. Ever. Just don’t do it.


What TO Do

Just be the genuine version of you. If someone comments about going to a concert for your favorite band comment “Ahhh I’m so jealous I love them.” If someone mentions that they really want to get involved with a club you also want to join/did the high school version of, definitely comment and say that you’d like to do it.
Don’t be over eager. Don’t abuse the page. Just be calm.

I’ve actually written a Prospect Article about Admitted Students Day, but there’s something super important you need

Admitted Students day is basically the hard sell for any given school. They’re rolling out the red carpet, and they want you to be impressed and excited.

But there’s one thing that will trump any panel or picnic. PEOPLE

 

Talk To EVERYONE

Even if you’re shy, this is important. People will make or break your experience at school. So talk to EVERYONE.

Current students are going to be on their best, perkiest, most drinking-the-Kool-Aid behavior. Which is great, because they’ll be approachable and happy to answer any questions. See how helpful people are willing to be, not just the clearly demarked volunteers and tour guides. I know when I visited a school I tried to find a dorm that is not easy to find because I was overnighting there. A student took the time to personally walk me there. It was really indicative of the culture.

I also think you should go to a club fair if one is being offered. This will be a time to talk to people who are interested in things you’re interested in. Find out what the “scene” is like. If you want to do Model UN, talk to the people in Model UN. Are they into it? Are they excited? Do they seem welcoming or elite? These people will, theoretically, become your social group.
Don’t believe me?


I talked to a representative for Women’s Chorus at the club fair when I was a pre-frosh. I ended up sitting next to her the entire next year. She was the reason I even remembered to try out for Chorus when I came to school, because she was so nice and sweet and enthusiastic.  

Don’t just talk to current students, talk to other prospective students. These will be your classmates. Introduce yourself, be friendly. See what types of people are checking out the school. These people might be your future roommates. If every single person you talk to makes you think twice about the school, take that into consideration.

Short Answer: No

Long Answer: Noooooooooooooooooooooo

This is one of the most common questions I get.

And I understand. Long distance sucks, and you’re in love, and the prospect of being apart is incredibly painful.

I’m not going to patronize you by saying something dumb like that high school love isn’t real love, or that you can’t make those kinds of decisions at that age. It’s not always true, and it’s not fair to you. Even if it is true, it’s not true right now in the moment, so again, not useful. I know couples who have gone to college and broken up within a week, and I know long distance couples who are in it for the long haul. Everyone is different.

What I will say is that if you are planning on being with someone long term, you have to have a strong relationship. You need to have a lot of trust. You need to be mature enough to handle a little difficulty in your life. And you need to love your significant other enough to allow them to pursue their interests and follow their dreams

Here are some common reasons for choosing a college together

I Don’t Think Our Relationship Will Last Long Distance

This is a sign of there being other issues.
If you don’t think your relationship will last long distance, it is not a strong enough relationship to make life changing decisions (like where you will get your education).

You call, you skype, you snapchat, you text, you send random gifts, you plan visits. You have a countdown to when you’ll see them next.
If you’re not good at keeping in touch you get good at keeping in touch.

I’m Worried About Cheating

Again, signs that something is wrong.
You being on campus with them will not deter someone who has the potential to cheat from cheating. This is a matter of trust. If you don’t trust them (or yourself) to be faithful you should take a look at the relationship.

Long Distance Lacks The Physical Side Of The Relationship

The thing is, the physical relationship shouldn’t be the most important thing. You can get that from randos if you so wish.

Obviously this is something you need to be creative about, and you may need to (erm) take matters into your own hands.
Use time apart to strengthen the emotional side of your relationship. It will make you appreciate the time together more.

They are Pressuring Me/I Am Pressuring Them To Pick This School

This is a sign that one of you wants the other to make a huge sacrifice. Your education is more important than a relationship right now. Nobody should pressure someone to pick a school for them. A healthy relationship would involve you both supporting the other one to make the right choices for them. 

I Don’t Think I Can Emotionally Handle the Separation 

I’m going to be honest. The stronger your relationship is, the more this one will hurt. You’re going to miss them. It’s going to be very painful and very very hard. However, take this time to grow as a person before you handle growing as a couple. You’ll find creative ways to stay in touch, and just because you’re not physically there doesn’t mean you can’t get the same support you usually get.
It might suck, but it will help you grow stronger as a person, which is what college is about.

It Feels Like Forever To Be Apart

Four years is a blink of an eye in the context of a lifetime (which, if you’re willing to make the life altering decision to go to school together, should be how you’re thinking). And you’ll get to be together over breaks and summer. It’s the best kind of long distance because it has a finite end date.

We Both Decided On The School Independently And We Both Want to Go There

Awesome! Have fun! THIS is the only reason you should choose to go to school with your SO.

I have only ever pulled one all nighter… and it was for a craft project my older sister and I did after my freshman year.

Even with my pretty baller time management and scheduling skills, I do occasionally need to study more than I need to sleep.

But I don’t pull all nighters.
I pull what I call a “maximum study situation”

Which, to me, is the most effective all nighter. You maximize your time, and minimize your sleep deprivation.

Sleep:

I am a big believer that you need, at a minimum, 5 hours of sleep to think and function properly for a whole day. Any less than that and your reasoning skills and awareness (which are super important for test-taking) will be in the toilet.

So, lets take last night for example.
I stayed up late to study with some friends for an exam at the library. I also had an early morning class this morning, and I had to wake up before 8AM. I got about 5 hours of sleep.

So I wasn’t super groggy in the morning, but I did get an extra few hours to study (I usually stop work for the night around 11PM).

Study Time:

I took one substantial study break last night that lasted about 30 minutes.  I did other homework in that break. It was more enjoyable homework (reading a play for another class), but it was still work. I used my break wisely. I let my brain focus on something else, but it was productive.


Other than that, I was studying with some friends. Though we joked around a lot (the words “SWAN-ZEUS” were shouted in the library after midnight) we did get a ton done. The joking around helped, because it made sure things stuck in our heads.

If you’re going to sacrifice sleep to study, you need to actually study. You can have fun while studying, but any long study break is better spent on sleep than something unproductive.

Gremlin Rules:

I enforce something called “Gremlin Rules” when staying up late to work.

Basically, “Don’t feed it after midnight.”
I like study snacks as much as the next person, but all that extra sugar is bad so late at night. You won’t notice how much you’re eating either.
All study snacks and eating-based study breaks are done after midnight.

If you don’t understand why this rule exists… Live in a freshman dorm for a while. After the fourth 3AM fire drill because some idiot burned popcorn, you’ll swear off late night food as well.

 

We all need to sacrifice sleep to study from time to time, but there’s a productive way to do it and a dangerous way to do it. Make sure you’re on the productive side.  

It’s so beautiful out today I couldn’t help but go for a walk.

I live in a very weird, but very beautiful town. Weird because one block away from where I live it appears to be the colonial era. Beautiful because OMG IS PRETTY BECAUSE ARCHITECTURE AND NATURE AND ZOMG.

I also saw a lot of babies on my walk. Tourist towns have a lot of babies. Lots of cute, friendly, happy babies. And puppies.

And then I got Cheese Shop.

If you’ve never been to Williamsburg VA, and are unaware of the true amazing miracle that is a Cheese Shop I pity you.

Anyway, I digress.

The point is, as great as a campus is… The oft overlooked detail of the surroundings needs to be… well… looked at.

 A campus is great, but you need a town to go with it.

There are a few things I highly recommend you check out when you’re touring a college.


1. Grocery Store

Is it easily accessible? If there’s a chain you like (ex: do you bow to the altar of Trader Joes?), is there one nearby. Is the closest grocery store friendly to any dietary needs you might have?

2. Safety

Is the town relatively safe? Is it safe to walk around campus at night? How about the town? Do students not go to certain areas?

3. Shopping

This might not seem like a big deal, but you’ll need a few things. Is there goodwill or a Wal-Mart that will supply you with the materials for theme parties? Is there a computer store, or a place to get school supplies? Is there an easily accessible hardware store?

You never realize that things are lacking until you desperately need something.

4. Entertainment

What is there to do in town? Yes, most campuses have enough stuff going on to give you tons of activities, but that doesn’t mean you wont want to go exploring. Is there a movie theatre? Is there something cool, like a trampoline gym or an art studio? Go find out what there is to do on the weekends, lest you end up at yet another trivia night.