(Megan as a freshman at The George Washington University)
Week after week I share with you my knowledge and experience in the field of test preparation and college admissions counseling, but I don’t want you to think I’m infallible. In fact, my personal college experience includes a string of mistakes and some bad college planning advice.
Working With My High School Counselor
Like many high school students, I got little help from my guidance counselor. I was a good student in the top 3% of my graduating class and I held many leadership positions on campus. I did all the right things to prepare for college, but I got bad advice.
I took the initiative to go to the college counseling office in the fall of my senior year. I met with my counselor and told her I was interested in law, which made sense given my involvement with mock trial and debate. My counselor gave me a huge printout with hundreds of colleges and universities and sent me away to narrow down the list.She said I was a good student and would do well at any of the schools.
In the days before the Internet, my research included talking to friends and sorting through the bags of college brochures we collected from the mail. All I knew was that I wanted to attend a good school and preferably one in a more exciting locale than my hometown of Colorado Springs. I never visited any universities.
I met with my counselor a couple more times as she worked on letters of recommendation, but she never helped me evaluate schools. I was given the impression that all schools were pretty much the same and my decision was based on geography and reputation. Saying my counselor gave me bad advice may be overstating things. She gave me no advice.
My First College Acceptance
In January of my senior year I thought I hit the jackpot. I was accepted by The George Washington University and offered an honors scholarship. The first time I saw the GW campus was when I attended freshman orientation in June. At first everything seemed perfect. I was part of a selective residential-learning program and I was living four blocks from the White House.
As many positive points as The George Washington University had on paper, it was lacking the single most important element – fit. It just wasn’t the right school for me. I was making good grades. I had good friends, but I wasn’t happy. I didn’t realize how unhappy I was until I took my younger sister on a college visit to William & Mary over spring break.
I knew I couldn’t spend two more years at GW. So I began my college search all over again in March of my sophomore year.
Next week: what I did better the second time around and the mistakes I made (so you can avoid them.)
Let me know what college planning mistakes your family has made. Share in the comments below, so we can learn from eachother.]]>