April is College Decision Season, the least fun of the seasons after That Period of Time Between Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day and Two Days After Christmas.
Like most neurotic adults, there are things I wish I'd considered before committing to what became my alma mater. Here are my top five. Feel free to add your own in the comments.
1. What the hell am I really going to study?
I thought I wanted to be premed, and then I was going to major in political science, and then I finally decided on English. The reality was that I hadn't considered what I wanted to study, how it would apply to my getting a job (because even though theoretically you should study what you love and follow your unicorn dreams or whatever, what you love may become what you hate if you find yourself having to move back in with Mom and Dad when you're completely unemployable post graduation.
2. Where would I like to live after I graduate from college?
This was my chance to escape the Midwest and I sqaundered it by heading straight to Indiana. While the quality of school matters, had I chosen to go to college on a coast, I'd have been closer to making contacts on the coasts and moving there would have been easier.
3. Do I really want to go to a Catholic school?
Pro: God points. Con: By senior year, I no longer believed in God and I felt like a pariah skipping mass all the time.
4. Student loans are a cruel mistress.
Sometimes, it makes sense to forego a fancy school if it means financial freedom starts at age 25 rather than when it will start for me, at age never.
5. Realistically, how hard can I study?
Some schools expect a lot out of their students while others are more lackadaisical, or, in technical terms, "easy." The workload of college can be jarring, especially if you sailed through high school without having to do much more than show up to class and write your name on things. Consider your ability to adjust to the changing expectations of college, and, if you're concerned you can't hack it, take advantage of what resources are there for you (and make sure that there are easily accessible resources for students who need help).
While it's important to find a decent fit, I wish I'd reminded myself that this isn't a life or death decision; college is what you make of it and almost any college can prove to be a great experience. Best of luck to those readers who are in the exciting point in their lives when they first truly choose its direction.