Finding Good Fits: Advice from a Peer

Are people starting to hound you to pick a place to go to college? I’ve been there. I didn’t know where to start when narrowing down college options. I knew what I wanted to do, but there were so many options that I completely shut down. I went through this process pretty blindly, but you don’t have to. Here are some steps I found that help narrow down your options early in the game.

The first thing you should think about is location. Where do you want to go to school? Do you care that much? Maybe going somewhere far away scares you. Maybe you can’t wait to explore that newfound freedom college gives you. Either way, it’s something you should think about to narrow down your options and make them less overwhelming. Let’s say Lily is from northern California and doesn’t want to leave the west coast. Here’s what her starting list might look like!

The second thing you should think about is size. Do you want to go to a smaller school where the professors will know you by name, or do you want to go to a school the size of a small city? Maybe you want something in between. Lily wants something small, so she crossed off all the bigger schools from her list.

The next thing you need to think about is budget. Are you going to be able to afford an absurdly expensive school? You really don’t have to. There are plenty of universities in an affordable price range that offer rigorous and fulfilling academics, just like big price tag schools. Lily doesn’t want to take out too many student loans, so she crossed off the most expensive schools from her list.

Lily doesn’t know what she wants to study yet. You may not, either. Just try to research the things you’re interested in. If you love reading, research if that specific school has a good comparative literature program. If you really like learning about animals, check out their zoology department. You don’t have to pick a major right now. You don’t have to pick a major when you start college. Just pay attention to what you like to do.


The final thing to think about is what you want socially. Do you want to join clubs? When you picture yourself at college, what do you see? Lily really wants to continue being in marching band. She likes it, and she’s good at it. She found out that UC Santa Barbara has a fantastic marching band. For now, it’s going on the top of her list. She can change her mind at any time, but now she has an answer for where she wants to go to college when her relatives are incessantly asking about it. Here’s her final list:

Your list might be longer, your list might be shorter. Your list will change as you get closer to application season, and that’s okay.

Spread your paper wings,

Olivia Porta

C.I.A. (Creative Intern Assistant)

NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study

Class of 2025



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