The Cold, Hard Truth About Your College Search

The Cold, Hard Truth About Your College Search

By Contributor

My freshman year at college is drawing to a close. As the weather warms, I’m filled with nostalgia about last spring, when I was a mere high school senior desperate to find the perfect college. In my quest for the best institution of higher learning, I learned many things that your guidance counselor won’t tell you about. Here are some ugly truths about the college search:

1. Scholarship contests. Your odds of winning a scholarship are about the same as your odds of winning the lottery. I’d honestly suggest you just invest in some Mega Millions tickets; they’re far less time-consuming than scholarship applications and don’t care about whether or not you got a C in AP Chem. The fact is that most of your financial aid will come either through the school or the government. My senior year, I literally entered into five scholarship contests a month, and didn’t win a single one. I know another girl who entered into five a week and didn’t win any. The only girl I know who actually won one of those was the captain of the varsity soccer team, held leadership positions in a ton of clubs, was in every honor society plus National Beta Club, had straight As throughout high school, and was an IB Diploma student who took an additional AP class. So stop copy/pasting your 250 word essay on why you deserve the Richie McMoneybags “I’m a Good Student” scholarship and crack open a textbook, ‘cause your GPA will get you more help than cappex ever will.

2. The perfect college does not exist. No matter how much you love the school you’ve chosen, there will always be something wrong with it. If it’s something serious, like the people, the quality of the classes/professors, or the fact that it doesn’t offer a single major you’re interested in, you may want to consider a new top choice. If it’s something minor like the food or the fact that there are inchworms everywhere, you may just want to grin and bear it.

3. Tips for American IB kids. Most U.S. colleges don’t recognize IB credit as equivalent to AP. I hear it’s different in Europe and Canada, so you may want to check them out. I also know for a fact that public universities in Virginia are now required to recognize both HL and SL credit as equivalent to AP credit. But a lot of schools only recognize HL or nothing at all. IB will definitely prepare you for college in terms of teaching you how to write a 1000-word essay in an hour, to pull an efficient all-nighter, which energy drinks are the best, and a lot of other important college skills your fellow freshmen may lack. However, if you were hoping to come in as a sophomore off IB credit alone, you may want to scrutinize your dream school’s website a little closer.

4. College websites are some of the least user-friendly websites on planet earth. The only way you’ll get the information you need handed to you in a convenient way is if you go up to the school and ask someone personally. If you can’t do that, grab yourself a snack, because you’re in a for a long couple hours of searching, clicking through links, and guessing whether available majors will be listed under “Academics” or “Incoming Students.”

5. FAFSA is not nearly as simple as it claims to be, and if you’re not completely destitute, it probably won’t give you a ton of aid.

6. College review websites are not all reliable. Quite a few require no verification at all that you go or have gone to the school you’re reviewing. To this day I can’t name a reputable college review site. If you REALLY want to know more about your school, find its meme page; yes it was made to be goofy, but those jokes are grounded in truth. Many colleges also have facebook groups for specific class years, and if they aren’t completely open they might still welcome a message. So ask the students about what it’s REALLY like at the college; many will likely be happy to help you, either because they love the school and want everyone else too as well, or because the place is hell on earth and they want to save everyone else the pain.

Post by dac213!

Do you have any other cold, hard truths to share with incoming college froshies?

Related post: The Truth About College Life

Topics: guides, college search, scholarships, FAFSA, IB program, tips, getting into college, applying to college, college review sites, the truth about college

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