Though you campus might be wonderful and perfect and have everything you could ever want, eventually you will need to venture off campus for something.
And this, my dear readers, is when public transport comes into play.
When you’re looking at colleges figure out how easy it is to get around.
Some cities have great public transit which make getting from point A to point B without a car a breeze. Others have a mess of separated routes and confusing rules.
This can make a huge difference, especially if you’re planning on working off campus.
While you’re investigating, find out if you get free transport. Small towns often will give university students free rides. Bigger cities might have discounts or vouchers for students.
Also find out if there’s car share at your school. Zipcar the big one, but your university might have a different service. Basically, you pay a membership fee and can reserve a car to use when you need it. It’s usually much cheaper than parking on campus and maintaining a car. However, you can find yourself needing a car and there being none available. Find reviews of the program on that campus.
Getting around is something you don’t always think about, but can make a big difference in your college experience.
My baby brother is touring schools!
Which is awesome and I’m only a tiny bit jealous of him.
He’s using his spring break to tour all of the schools on his list that are a bit farther away.
Though the huge majority of college students stay in state, some of us are a bit more adventurous and venture a bit more off the beaten path. Which is when travel becomes a factor.
If all methods of travel are available to you your horizons broaden considerably. But the point stands that some schools are easier to get to than others.
Which is why distance is not always equal to ease of travel.
When I was looking at schools the school I attend was easily the furthest away geographically. However, I always had a plethora of different options for travel, so the distance didn’t seem quite as far.
Some schools don’t have an airport or a train station nearby, so even if they’re technically closer, the need to drive or take a bus greatly adds to travel time.
This is why, even if you can’t visit, I’d check all of your travel options before deciding on a school based on location.
Ease of travel is a huge plus, especially for short breaks and emergencies.
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.