Where should I go to college? Student stories, UCSD

October 30, 2015
(Courtesy of UC San Diego)

(Courtesy of UC San Diego)

Katherine Han

Katherine Han

By Katherine Han

Be selfish.

Not exactly the first words you expected to read, but nevertheless the words that should be at the forefront of your college decision making process.

You are the one who will be walking the school halls, you are the one who will be surrounded by students, you are the one who will be entering a new chapter in your life called college; not your college counselor, not your parents, not your siblings.

Put yourself first and understand that choosing the college you will be attending should not strain your brain, make you stressed, or nervous; there are hundreds of great universities to choose from – craft your dream college for yourself and I guarantee you will find it.

Personally for me, the most important part of this process is to visualize and discover. Let’s relax that brain of yours, and put the academic and scholastic worries aside for a moment.

Every school is the same at its core – it is an institution that has the majors, the minors, the classrooms, the professors, the programs – that’s not going anywhere. The main differences lie in the location and environment that surrounds the school. These qualities are what make it unique.

Although the decision is about the school, equally if not more important is the atmosphere in which you will be growing for the next four years.

Once again, be selfish and think about yourself.

In what type of environment do you feel you can excel? If you’re anything like me, I’m captivated by my surroundings. Painting my dream college picture in my head, I imagined deep red bricks and forest green ivy emerging up the sides of the buildings, a library with old historic architecture that embodied the books within it, a relatively small college town surrounding my university with local town diners, coffee shops, and neighborhood vendors showcasing their own craft.

What about experiencing all four seasons? Rain, snow, hot desert sun, or moderate weather changes.

Whether you decide to stay close to home or travel far, you will be entering a new place, feeling a new atmosphere. Visualize yourself in the environment entirely of your choice. Do research on colleges that fit your picture – now you’re one step closer to finding that new home.

Equally important is to have peace within yourself. Again, if you’re anything like me, going through this process you may be easily swayed by rankings, what your parents say, or even by your own ego. All that madness can be easily avoided by remembering that this decision is for no one but you.

Ultimately, the happiness must come from within knowing that you are making this decision based on what will make you happy. Remember that this isn’t about going to the best ranked school or the school everyone else tells you to go to. This is about going to the school you are best fit for. Remind yourself that this process is less of finding a college and more about finding yourself.

If I told you that this was the advice I followed going through my college decision process, I would be lying. It turns out, that in writing this article, the advice I gave above could only have been crafted through my experiences in the past few  years at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD).

This school has been the pinnacle of my personal and academic growth. It is through my experience here that I have been able to reflect on the process by which I made my first college decision – the decision you are making now.

Signing my intent to register to the UCSD was a choice I made blindsided by my ego to go to one of the best ranked, academically rigorous schools in California. The UCSD describes itself as “a student-centered, research-focused, service-oriented public institution that provides opportunity for all. Recognized as one of the top 15 research universities worldwide, a culture of collaboration sparks discoveries that advance society and drive economic impact.”

Ultimately, I did exactly what I advised you to not to do in the beginning of this article. Luckily for me, I landed in the beautiful city of La Jolla, have crossed paths with friends who have become family, and am enjoying studying economics at one of the most prestigious research universities.

However, in one years time, I will be in the same shoes you are in now as I apply to graduate school. The only difference is, I have gone through this process once, and will be able to appropriately apply what I have learned. My choice of graduate school will be a resemblance of myself because I will approach the process in my own best interest, and I hope you will do the same.

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