joseph-85That’s how I felt last year at this time. The leaves were falling off the trees, the air had a bite, and the sun was setting earlier.  The election season was over, and I had spent the last few months putting off thinking about college in favor of work and the campaign.  Fall had come, and it didn’t wait for me.  I had done most of what was expected so far thanks to the guidance from a caring teacher, but I hadn’t even begun to consider what schools to apply to. In fact, all I had really done was take the ACT with writing.  The deadlines were coming though, and I had made sure in advance I hadn’t missed any.

An important conversation that I had with one of my mentors earlier that year left me with an interest in Liberal Arts colleges.  After leafing through a book with overviews of schools throughout the country in the days following the election though, I had a good idea of what institutions interested me.  This is a practice I highly recommend to all of the high-schoolers out there.  In fact, it was the Insider’s Guide to Colleges that first informed me of Occidental College’s existence.  That Oxy wasn’t even on my radar before is important because it shows the importance of broadening the scope of your horizons.

When applying to schools, listen to others but also think for yourself.  What you want is important, and it is your education on the line here.  Many high school students aren’t getting fantastic advice in their schools.  In my case, I was lucky to have it from one teacher and a whole host of mentors outside of my school.  If you feel the same way, I would recommend looking around the other regions of your life for advice.  The internet is a tremendous resource as well, but I recommend using your informed instincts there as anywhere else. Just don’t be afraid of rejection.

Finally, the last bit of advice I have is this: Get your applications done in plenty of time so you can make sure it is done correctly.  I can’t stress this enough.  All the mysterious people you are sending your application to will see are the words in front of them. Make sure that it’s you that they can see, and take the time to be certain. You won’t regret it.