Choosing a College

The biggest decision I have ever made…

Choosing+a+College

Now is the time that seniors are deciding what to do with their next four years- we have heard from our schools, maybe toured some, applied for scholarships, and are buckling down to make a final decision. Due to Covid-19, there have been limited opportunities to go and tour schools during the year, but as things settle down and more people have become vaccinated, many seniors went on college tours over the Spring Break. Personally, I did as well. In this article, I shall describe to you my experience in this process.

I was lucky to be able to visit my top two colleges during spring break. They are small, so I was able to tour both, which was very helpful. But first, let me backtrack and recap the two I have been most interested in since getting accepted:

College of the Atlantic 

Location: Bar Harbor, Maine, which is a small, sort of touristy town on the beautiful Maine shoreline. Maybe some of you have gone here on vacation before! I was excited by this location because the campus has it’s own little rocky beach overlooking the ocean with it’s own island out there too that is used for research. Plus: Maine is beautiful. Minus: Maine is cold in the winter.

Size: 350 students. WOW this is small, you may be saying. Yes it definitely is. However, they seem to have a very tight and inclusive community. The classes are small and the professors seem like they know each student well. Many of the students come from outside the United States, which is awesome. Overall, I have only heard good things about the size, especially good things about the COA community.

(my) Major: COA only has one major- Human Ecology, which is the study of how humans interact with the world around them. This is broad, which allows each student to individualize their education. Furthermore, students can create their own courses with support from professors, and do an end-of-college project in the subject that their interested in and tie it all together with Human Ecology. Personally, I would want to take a marine science track, which is what I am interested in.

Hiking in Acadia

Why it’s cool: The first thing you see when you enter the campus is a whale skull and then you look around and you see the beautiful campus with a view of the ocean. The campus is small, with more traditional dorms and less-traditional ones: with converted houses, composting toilets, and solar panels. There are two campus farms (where there are baby lambs right now!!) and also it has its own island where students do research. I think I was especially drawn to the tight community there- students even participate in college meetings and make all sorts of important decisions, not just about student life. Also, Acadia National Park is right next to the campus!

 

 

 

Eckerd College

Location: St. Petersburg, Florida, with white sandy beaches, abundant wildlife, and sunny days year round. It’s pretty close to Tampa, and is on the Gulf coast of Florida. St. Pete beach is pretty touristy, but the campus is tucked away right outside of the tourist community. I spent 2 nights there, and it was so warm and sunny which may have helped with my perception of the college.

Size: 1,900 students, all undergrads, which is still pretty small but larger than Magnet. The nice part about the size is that pretty much everyone has the opportunity to do research with professors, regardless of the fact that you’re an undergraduate. The community here also seems to be very close and inclusive and there are a lot of student traditions that bring all years together.

(my) Major: Here, I would like to study Marine Science. Eckerd is the place to study Marine Science because of it’s proximity to Boca Ciega Bay- the building is in the shape of a stingray and pumps saltwater from the bay into the tanks that specimens live in. Something that is really cool is that students are able to get outside nearly every class to do hands-on learning, an aspect of education that is really important to me, since I haven’t had much of that in high school.

so pretty!

Why it’s cool: Where to beginnnnn….. first of all, there is a beach on campus. With wifi that extends halfway across the bay so you can do homework on land or on the water. The campus is really very beautiful- there are lots of ponds, trees, green spaces, and everything is lush and healthy because it’s Florida! I even saw a baby duckling when I toured. Also there is a new art building that is huge and I would love to take drawing classes there. Study Abroad is a big aspect of college there, they really encourage and support people to study abroad at least once. The term schedule supports this too, because winter term is a three-week period where people usually go abroad. Another thing that is super cool is the boat dock, where you can rent paddle boards, kayaks, sailboats, windsurfing equipment, and so much more.

 

 

 

As you can see, these both are amazing schools. Over the course of the year I had been going back and forth on them, trying to decide where I might really want to go. I got into Eckerd first, on Thanksgiving, and then had to wait until March to hear back from COA (p.s. I applied to four other schools and got into them too but these were my favorites) so it was a drawn out process.

Ultimately, though, during my tour of COA I just wasn’t wowed any more than I previously had been. I went into the tours looking for a gut feeling, because I really already knew a bunch about the schools. However I just didn’t get a gut feeling from COA. Eckerd, however, gave me a gut feeling as soon as we drove into campus. and then the rest of the tour just kept getting better and better. So, I decided to go with Eckerd! Yay!

My advice to you all is to only apply to colleges that you can see yourself thriving at and that you would really like to go. I only applied to 6 (still kindof a lot) because there weren’t any more that I would have really liked to go to! And if you have that time to put a lot of personal effort into your application, it will show. Another piece of advice is to tour if you can! It really made a difference to me and others that I have talked with. If you can’t tour in person, try to talk to a student there and get a good idea of what the school is like separate from the website, try to get an unbiased source to tell you about it. Go with your gut!!

Try and visit as many colleges as you can and as is safe to do so!”

So good luck to everyone out there who is still deciding, you will make the right choice. And for those of you who have already committed, congratulations! you made it through! and to all you Juniors- hang in there and think about what you really want. Don’t overload yourself with 20 applications and remember follow your heart. <3 <3 <3