Facing the Fear: Am I Choosing the Right College?
Sometimes I go to the grocery store, stand in front of the cereal aisle and feel completely paralyzed.
“So many choices,” I tell myself. “This would be a lot easier if we only had two or three boxes to choose from.”
Instead, there are dozens. Some of those choices are really good, like Lucky Charms. Some are pretty bad, like Bran Flakes. Some are really good for me, and some are really expensive.
“Look at all the colors!”
There are a lot of things to think through.
Do you feel that way thinking about where you want to go to college? It is great to have so many excellent colleges and universities to choose from, but it can also induce fear.
“Am I making the right choice? Am I going to get ripped off? What if I don’t like it?”
These and many other questions go through our minds as we labor over the decision.
Try practicing some of the following tips to relieve that anxiety about making a big decision:
- One college or university will not meet every need and expectation. Try to settle on “good enough” and not “perfect.” Try to answer the question: “Will this college satisfy most of my needs?”
- Once you receive acceptance letters, decide and don’t look back. Second-guessing yourself after the fact won’t bring you happiness, only regret.
- DO NOT COMPARE YOUR CHOICE TO OTHERS. You may have people in your life who choose a certain school for its name, location, or notoriety. If you choose something different, make that choice yours and stick to it. According to an article in Forbes, “Your choice will soon be your school, and it will provide you with incredible opportunities even if you have to remind people where it's located. Focus on what makes you happy and what gives meaning to your life.”
- Are you telling yourself you’re not good enough? This notion is probably related to #3. OnCampus College Planning says, “COMPARISON KILLS COMMITMENT,” so don’t do it. No one has it all figured out, even if social media makes it seem like they do.
- The MyOptions website says, “Stay focused on the fit of the school. This includes how it fits financially, academically, socially, etc. Don’t attend a school just because all your friends are going there. It is your education, and you should make decisions based on what is best for you. With so many colleges out there, you will definitely find one that fits!”
- It’s ok to research colleges and universities, take tours, and talk to others — but at some point, you have to take all the information and distill it down. What does your gut tell you? Again, ask the question, “Will this institution meet my needs?”
And always — ALWAYS — choose Lucky Charms. You won’t go wrong.
Sean Williamson is Director of Counseling Services for Piedmont University. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.