For international students, choosing a college is a lot like throwing a dart in the dark. We don’t know what the college atmosphere is like. We don’t know how accessible the location is, and, most importantly, we don’t know what the weather is actually like. Why? Because we’ve never had a campus tour. Chances are the average international student has never visited the United States before either. When trying to find the right college for us, we’ve had to depend on the College’s website and whatever location-based information Google can provide. I was fortunate enough to be enrolled in an international high school in Swaziland that was on the visit list for a number of liberal arts colleges. I got to hear from admissions directors about their school’s programs, how each college environment differed from others, and what student life was like on campus.
When I started making my pros and cons list of the colleges that I had gotten into, I quickly realized that it was easier said than done. I started the application process in August thinking that by the time March came around I would know where I wanted to go. I didn’t. I thought that by March I would know what I wanted to study. I didn’t.
At a loss, I started off with locations and weather pattern. I knew I wanted to go to a college which was fairly near a major city and wasn’t too cold. That made it easy to strike out a couple of choices. I knew that, regardless of whichever college I chose, I would struggle as I had never experienced temperatures below 30 degrees Fahrenheit. I also knew that I wanted to be in a place with easy access to New York City. Besides these, I wanted a college with a low student to teacher ratio. I knew I had previously excelled in environments where I had personal interactions with teachers and I wanted to continue that. I also heard from my cousins about how it is easy to get lost in a classroom with 100 other students.
Choosing a college was hard and I had never been more grateful for the existence of pros and cons lists. When plotted out, I saw Conn being a better fit for me in terms of location, class sizes, and their new Connections curriculum reassured me that my plethora of academic interests could be satiated. I admit that not all major decisions can be based on a list. But I’m glad mine worked out.