Considerations when looking at College Decisions

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This is the post I wish I had glanced over years ago.

But I’m here now writing out a list due to my lack of  “research” as to what a high school student should consider when making the college decision.


I’m just going to jump in because I doubt anyone will read a long paragraph that doesn’t start with a number in front of it–guilty as charged*

So here we go:

1. Make a List

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When swamped by mail and advertisements for colleges, don’t fret. Make a simple pros and cons list of what you absolutely desire in your future education and what you can live without. For example:

Strongly desired aspects: Freshman allowed to have cars, apartment-dorms, study abroad program, a chapel on site, tuition and living costs, definite NEED  of on campus coffee shop, specific classes like astronomy 101 with Bill Nye, and ability to graduate in 3 years.

Can Live Without: Sororities, live on-campus (if close to home), AP transfer credit, single bedroom, Football/Hockey, meal plan choice, short library hours, variety of majors, and package delivery/shipping center.

Those are just fun ideas to get you started, because only you know what’s top priority for the next four years. Your list could be positively articulate with study materials or great hang out spots.

2. Fees

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Mickey Mouse

Somehow colleges find ways to make you pay for any fee possible. One of my old roommates had a friend that didn’t pick up her mail for a couple weeks. The college ended up fining her for being negligent.

It’s hard to believe, but it’s worth asking about during a tour of the campus. You can always email the student services staff to ask about potential fees that appear frequently.

3. Majors and Textbook

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Donald Duck

Look at what you want to pursue for college and check out the curriculum for that major at your prospective colleges. All I have to say is that my engineering buddies always needed grand ($$$$) money when the new semester rolled around. It wasn’t the parties or gas money that got them deep either. As a hospitality management major, my textbooks were relatively cheap to rent and I made sure to thank my professors for their choices.

4.Social life

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I cannot stress enough how important it is to socialize. Have an outlet, do something, mold your life into more than just the books. Something to consider when searching for the right fit is the environment and town supporting the college. Are there places to eat? Do you need a more outdoorsy city? Do you want public transportation downtown to see a movie?

Social life comes down to location, population, tourism, and flat out just things to do. Which brings up my next point.

5. Location

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If it’s a city in the middle of nowhere, is that going to bother you while you are getting a great education or will it drive you mad? Is the city-life too big for you and you’d prefer a more laid-back, calm town while you’re studying? The people and culture and definitely affect your way adjusting to the new life. So take in the possibilities of where you might like to reside the years to come.

6. In-state or Out

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The Notebook

Both have their perks. Scholarships are definitely available for whatever path you choose, but it comes down to what you want and ties in with the location and climate points.

7. Accreditation

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Pirates of the Caribbean

Such a big thing. I know people that spent XX amount of money at colleges to earn a degrees and the accreditation made them lose jobs to any opposing competition. If it’s international, regional, or national it doesn’t matter. Just double check where your college has it’s accreditation and if it will work for what you want to achieve ten years down the road.

8. Climate

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Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times…

I went south twice. No three times. The people and cultures were great, but the humidity killed me. It was October and instead of treading through snow, I was drenched with sticky humidity. I couldn’t go to class without feeling like I needed a shower. Weather is important to think about it. So, think about it. Any drastic changes from your home may result in you completely changing your wardrobe with new clothes that you probably can’t afford since those textbooks in number three took your allowance.

8. Envision Yourself

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The Big Bang Theory

If you can’t do this with any of those college pamphlets , then toss it from your prospective pile. You should be able to picture yourself going to a college because you want to go there and you know it will provide you with the education, social life, and growing abilities that you need.

When in doubt, just try to picture yourself sitting down in the library or cozying up in the dorms while on the campus tour. It makes a world of difference.

9. Tour the Campus

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It gives you the feeling of the campus and allows you to interact with enthusiastic students. Be sure to answer questions. They are there attending the university after all.

10. Apply

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Apply no matter what people say or tell you. Sometimes if you apply and get into several colleges, you can barter a little bit with each college to get a better scholarship package.

11. Bonus

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Legally Blonde

Don’t follow your love of your life, like Elle Woods. If it’s meant to be then you guys will be, but don’t you dare choose a college because of your significant other. It’s not healthy and it probably won’t end well sad to say. Go to a college because you want to go.


So there you have it folks.

My short list of what you might want to consider besides the other tips you’ve been getting from close friends, family, teachers, and the colleges themselves. I wish you luck. May the odds ever be in your favor!

Making Life Choices at 18

This post is about the journey I have taken so far from Senior year of high school through my fourth year of college. What I wish I had known and what I don’t regret.

It’s senior year!

“And we’re gonna rule the school.” The Pink Ladies said it beautifully in the 1978 musical. Senior status creates an invincible feeling as you walk through the halls. No challenge seems too difficult and you rein king of the mountain. This triumphant feeling lasts and never burns a Senior out, even if the homework does. Unfortunately, that glorious rein comes to a full stop when reality hits.

What happens after high school?

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For some people, knowing life’s calling is a no-brainer; it’s like it birthed out of the womb with the knowing infant. As for the rest of us, we’re bestowed with finding what to pursue in the world at the age of 18. Not fair, is it? This, however, doesn’t mean we are the unfortunate ones. It simply means we get to find our next adventure while on the journey to the end. I hope to shed some light on what’s beyond high school and my experience with college decisions. I touch on opportunities college life has given me in the past four years and what to possibly consider in the future.

Life isn’t as cut and dry as you’d think:

Despite being the youngest of four, I entered my last year  of high school without any idea of what I wanted to pursue. I researched zero colleges, applied to a similar number, and toured maybe one campus, because of a class field trip. Obviously, I wasn’t that interested in continuing my education, yet.

Looking back, I regret not investing more time in looking, but it’s OKAY that I didn’t. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed and confused when instructors constantly prep, educate, and pamper students to make the right “college decision.”In feeling obligated to research potential routes, I found I lacked the effort in sending applications. Where do I start looking? Do I look in Minnesota or out-of-state? What do I want to study and eventually do with my life? Do I look for athletic recruiters? What’s the point in looking if I know I can’t afford it? It’s discouraging and terrifying.

Here is my answer to all of those questions: You won’t know until you try.

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If you haven’t seen this film, shame on you.

I felt stuck and I continued to feel that way until I made the rash decisions. I rejected a full-ride scholarship and signed with an all women’s college in North Carolina. I had toured and done research by this point of course, but non-the-less I turned down a full ride because I knew I didn’t fit the college–some say it was stupid of me. I think I made the right choice.

College Life isn’t what you expect

My first semester consisted of adjusting to the southern culture, schedule, location, and social life. The opportunity to study architecture in Costa Rica arose and I had one of the best times of my life. Yet, as an honor roll, athletic, AAA Nominee, full-time student I wasn’t happy and my grades were showing it. (I like to think of myself back then as a studious person–I did NOT party mind you–so getting a D was quite a blow after the extensive tutoring and office hours I committed to attending).

I was a misfit in my chosen college and that in itself made me miserable. The college and girls were completely different from the tour and research I had done months prior. I was attending a college that didn’t correlate with my educational standards or morals. As bazaar as that sounds, it can happen.  So naturally, I made my next rash choice.

It was time to transfer. I got more serious about my future and decided I wanted to work in the hospitality field. I’ve always liked people and tend to make people feel comfortable around me, so I thought it was a good fit. After researching colleges with a major in hospitality, I took note of the credits that would transfer, cost of attendance, and scholarships. I came upon a university just south of the state I was currently residing in, so I took the leap and started my new academic year in South Carolina.

My new life seemed a much better fit than the previous environment I escaped, but the glamour of a new place and culture evaporated. It wasn’t my classes–they were going well–or the people, because they were nice. Despite my efforts, I felt like a glass ceiling crushed my ability to grow. My grades were 4.0 worthy and I felt miserable again. The best way to describe it, is the feeling of pressure on your shoulders holding you down, so you can’t stand up to your full potential.

I sat pondering. What was it that I wanted out of my education? I tried to envision the end result. I couldn’t. The entire week I debated this topic in my head. Was I not cut out for college? Did anyone else feel trapped and unable to express themselves in while pursuing her education? Did I make some mistake in transferring? Is there something wrong with me and that’s why I can’t picture my future?

These questions went round and round in my head, until a magical ad appeared on my laptop screen. The Disney College Program. Everything clicked.

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Sherlock Tumblr

Since I was eight years old, I knew I wanted to attend the Disney College Program (DCP), after a cast member explained the details. I fell in love and eight year old Kat couldn’t imagine attending “Disney College.” It dawned on me, that I hadn’t applied before because I wasn’t qualified, but it was different now that I was a Sophomore in College.

I applied and after months of waiting, a quick phone interview, and chewed nails, I was accepted into the DCP. It was everything I hoped it would be and more. It changed me, but more importantly it was something I knew in heart that I wanted to pursue. I didn’t feel pressure to make a decision about something I didn’t visualize in my future.

I created my own magic and things started to make sense:

One year later and I’m still looking at options and potential paths. I achieved one dream. Now, I’m looking to better myself. That’s what life is about, isn’t it? It’s not about the salary, the amount of time you spend in college, or how little debt you graduate with. It’s about the experience and the growth.

Looking at colleges and making smart choices financial decisions is important and I won’t take that away from anyone, but at the same time, don’t be in a rush to graduate. Take a look around at the opportunities that surround you as a student.

If  there was one piece of advice I wish someone had told me back in high school, it would be that I was okay struggling to find myself and the “perfect” fit.  As cliche as it is, it’s truly about the journey and not so much the end result. College is what you make it and you’ll know what feels right or what isn’t working out.

Looking back, I’ve come along way and can’t imagine what my future has in store. I’ve attended two colleges– currently working a third one–traveled abroad, made friends around the world, worked a variety of jobs, and gained experience that made me grow and will help me in the future.

College is optional. Working full-time is also a choice.  Transferring once or multiple times isn’t so rare either. Applying to a program for a gap-semester isn’t for everyone. The point I’d like to make, is that you are not everyone. Nor am I. The only person that can figure out the right path is you. It’s okay to be unsure of what to do with such a heavy decision, but don’t let time be your enemy. Use it and work with it.

Know what feels right and what doesn’t. It’s not worth choosing something because of other people’s advice. All my friends have graduated, moved on to the next part of their journey, and even have families. People expect me to be down on myself for not having graduated yet, but honestly I’m proud of how far I’ve come and the decisions I made. I’m working hard and trying to indulge in all the opportunities I can. Life has a way of being tricky, but just remember it always works out for the better, even if it doesn’t look like the struggle will ever end.


Cover Photo Credit: Kaylie Janae Photography

A To-Do List in Santa Barbara

This is the excerpt for a featured content post.

I was lucky enough to visit my good friend in California this past summer. She had to work a lot, which meant I had to do some exploring on my own. Below are some of my top rated activities that I was able to experience in my short week on the Pacific Ocean.

1. The Old Mission


Set on the mountain side, The Old Mission still stands as beautiful as it did in the late 1700’s. The rose garden directly next to it makes for a perfect evening on the lawn looking at the stars. If you travel at the right time, you might be able to catch one of the chalk festivals that occur annually. The above image is from one of the artists that attended the festival in late May 2016. Seeing as my trip occurred in late August, I took this picture and realized that the drought saved this work of art.
You can read more about The Old Mission here.


2. State Street

This is where my people are. Seriously.

Shopping is my guilty pleasure and State Street has it all. For the foodie it has pubs, restaurants, and ethnic cuisine and for the shoppers it has local and brand name stores. This street has it all for any shopper, including the people that want to sit down at the theater while waiting on friends. One store I thoroughly enjoyed was Salt. I experienced a 50 minute self-meditation in the salt cave and I definitely recommend it to anyone in the area.


3. The Stearns Wharf

The Strearns Wharf is a massive dock protruding into the ocean. There are many shops, not nearly as many as State Street, and restaurants to choose from while biding your time in the sea air. It was a great chance for me to spend time with Madame Rosinka, as she is located on the pier as well. If anything, it’s something to cross off your bucket-list for all the palm reading seekers.


4. Knapp’s Castle

Let me just point out that there is a rope swing. It overlooks the hills that you just traveled across for 30 minutes and it makes for a great photo while waiting for the sun to set. The environment is natural and a nice change from the industrial scene. For those that love nature shots and sunsets, this is the place to visit on your trip. Many couples accumulate to this spot for engagements and photo shoots. Despite being a little bit of a drive, the sunset is worth the commute. Knapp’s Castle was by far my favorite adventure.

That is my short top four places to see while visiting Santa Barbara. Comment below and let me know what your favorite activity was visiting this destination.