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Here's the stress-free way to prep for college


@elliethumann

If you're anything like me, you've been dreaming about going to college for as long as you can remember. Althugh the thought of college is exciting, it can also be really overwhelming. As a high school senior on the brink of graduation, I have *plenty* of tips and tricks to help you start thinking about the college process—no matter how old you are right now. Keep reading for the GL Girl's guide to prepping for university.

One of the easiest resources you can use to learn about college is YouTube. I've been watching college YouTube videos since middle school. There are hundreds of successful YouTubers who make college content—from "day in my life" videos, to Q+As, to dorm tours. If you are interested in specific universities, you can search the name of the school along with some specific key words (i.e. Harvard Residence Hall Tour) and more often than not, you will find videos about it. As a senior in high school during the pandemic, I didn't get to tour as many schools as I would have liked. I used videos to see a real person's first-hand experience at the schools I applied to. One YouTuber named Domonique Cynthia posts "73 questions" videos (like a parody to Vogue) where she asks students at tons of different universities questions about themselves and the schools. I like the personal feel to these videos and the quick, honest answers.

Another easy way to start looking for colleges is to think about what you like and dislike. Would you like to go to school with lots of people? Or would you prefer a small-school-feel where you know practically everyone in your class? Do you like living in a busy city? Or are you a more rural gal? You might find yourself with definite answers or something in between—and that's all ok! There are many quizzes online you can take to help get you started about what schools might be the right fit for you. If you are in high school, you will also be able to talk a lot to your college counselors about this. 

Your family and friends are also great resources as you start the college process. If your parents went to college, they might be able to give you some insight into their experience. Sure, the college process has changed a lot since they went to school, but it's still helpful to have a support system through this process. You can also talk to siblings, friends or your friends' siblings who are in college. Don't be scared to reach out!

If you don't have any connection to a school you are interested in, use social media as a tool to get to know the students better. I didn't know anyone that goes to the university I ultimately chose, but I talked to my friends and was able to find mutual connections who go there. I reached out via Instagram and everyone I talked to was *so* helpful in answering my questions. People are very passionate about their schools and want to help high school students make the best choice for themselves.

Even if you aren't ready to think about college, you should still get involved while you're in high school. Joining clubs, sports teams, volunteer programs and so much more will help you when you're actually applying to schools. You might not be thinking about it now, but colleges want to see what you're passionate about outside of your classes. My biggest advice with this is don't do something just because you think colleges will want to see it on your resume—do things that actually excite you and are unique to you. Also, try new things! There were so many clubs and activities in high school that I tried and some ended up becoming my favorite things to do. For example, I tried Model United Nations and *loved* it. I did not think I would be interested in talking about international studies and foreign policies but now it is something I am very passionate about.

My last recommendation for those who are interested in learning more about the college process is to use online resources. Colleges have great websites designed to tell you about everything they have to offer. You can take a virtual campus tour or explore majors and minors. You can also look into what kind of financial aid or scholarships they might provide. Due to covid-19, so many schools are doing virtual information sessions that are free and easy to sign up for. There are also non-school-affiliated websites designed to give you all the stats of pretty much any college in the U.S. I definitely recommend checking out Niche or seeing if your school uses Scoir to get more information. The internet provides so many ways to learn about colleges—so why not use that to your advantage.

The college process can be stressful, but it's important to remember that this is YOUR future and you should be choosing a school that will fit you. You should not have to go through this process alone, so whenever you feel too overwhelmed, talk to a parent or college counselor. Remember: you've got this!

How else are you prepping for college? Tag us on Twitter @girlslifemag.

slider image: @elliethumann

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by Grace Gamper | 6/24/2021
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