Less Than 30 Days

In Less Than 30 Days I'll Be Headed Off to College

Time seems to be both flying by and moving at a snail pace.

I start college in less than 30 days, and that thought brings on a whirlwind of emotions–fear, excitement, hope, apprehension.

I’m not a planner by nature. I prefer to live life a little bit more on a whim. But, there was so much build-up of excitement for college that I had already started picking my dorm’s color palette a week after my acceptance letter came in. I was focused on college all through Senior year. This summer, I spent most of my time watching college vlogs and drinking up every article I could about surviving freshman year.

Somehow, I still feel wildly unprepared.

Thoughts and questions run rampant in my mind, and this is where time seems to be doing all too much and nothing at all. On one hand, I just want to go to college already. “Less than 30 days” still feels way too long, especially when I spend my days overanalyzing and making up scenarios in my head. There’s so much unknown about what to expect in college. I can’t ever know the answers until I finally get there.

“Less than 30 days” also feels entirely too short. I don’t feel quite ready for this new journey. I think I was eager to do all my “growing” this summer before I stepped foot on campus so I didn’t have to experience those infamous freshman year blunders.

I wanted to arrive already socially adept, charming my way through the social scene and finally feeling like I belonged somewhere. I wanted to have a mind that was already developed so I didn’t have to struggle my way through classes. I worry all the time that my affinity for non-challenging and fluffy young-adult books have put me steps behind my peers academically. I wanted to throw away my whole closet. Irrationally, I believed if I didn’t have a wardrobe made up of J.Crew and Vineyard Vines, nobody would respect my place in the Ivy League.

In a moment of clarity, I realized that all the fear and unnecessary expectations I’ve put on myself this summer is bullshit.

I’m here for adventure, not for a perfect path. The blunders will come, but more importantly, the successes will come too. My mom keeps reminding me that my happiness is inside me. I don’t need the perfect condition or the perfect environment to find peace within myself.

Where I’m going may not meet all of my lofty expectations, and that’s okay. may not meet my own expectations, and that’s okay too. It’s how I handle these challenges that will really make or break my experience in college. I know that I’m in for the best 4 years of my life because it’s entirely up to me. I’m choosing not to worry anymore.

No, I’m not prepared for college because I can’t tell the future, but I am prepared to stop fearing the unknown and to face whatever is coming.

I can’t wait for the adventure I’m about to go on, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

Less Than 30 Days


Blog Updates:

You might have noticed that I have a new look! I changed my theme to something a little more functional and a little more me. My color palette is now navy blue, pink, and grey, and I’m totally feeling the preppy vibe! I think it’s perfect considering I’ll be moving up to the East Coast, a.k.a Prep Central.

I have also decided to discontinue newsletters for a little while and see how I like it. Anything that I’d share within the newsletters will now be on Macarons in the Morning! Normally, I’d write a more personal post like this one in the email. But, I think it’s much better to create our little community openly and I look forward to talking to you guys more on here. If you want to keep up with my posts, I suggest following me on Bloglovin or Twitter, where I let you guys know as soon as I hit publish!

Thanks for all your support lovelies, I hope you like my new look!

Out of State College Move-In Guide

Out of State College Move-In Guide

Packing for an out of state college can be very challenging. With school right around the corner, you’re probably hustling to check more and more off your shopping list. Between trying to achieve the perfect dorm and a new and improved wardrobe, you might be wondering how you’ll get everything to campus.

You’ll have to stuff your whole life into a few suitcases while others can pack their cars with everything they need. As someone who will be traveling to an out of state college (Texas to New Hampshire), I’ve had to become a little more of a savvy packer.

I collected a couple of tips & tricks that I plan to use this fall when heading to campus. There’s also a free packing guide specialized just for you out of staters that you can download at the end of the post!

Packing for Out Of State College

Prioritize Your Items

When traveling to an out of state college, you will need to make some sacrifices. Prioritize what you can’t live without and make sure that’s what you pack first. I use this rule of thumb: If you can’t survive a week without it, pack it. Here’s what I recommend having with you when you arrive on campus:

+ Your bedding

Move-in day can be quite hectic, and you may not even get all your shopping done on that first day. Make sure you at least have something to sleep on during this settling in period. Most of your bedding items are thin (except for that pesky comforter) so you’ll have room for them.

+ Nicer items/Things you won’t find at Target

Bring items that you reasonably wouldn’t want to purchase duplicates of. Things like your makeup, hair styling electronics, or that really nice robe you got from PBteen should make it into your suitcase. Leave behind stuff you can replace at a local store like body wash, toothpaste, etc.

+ Capsule wardrobe

You might have heard of this term before. A capsule wardrobe is basically a minimalistic wardrobe with versatile pieces. It consists of good quality clothes that you can switch around to create original outfits. The “less is more” theory behind this wardrobe will benefit you in this situation. Pick a few really good items from each category of clothing and pack those first. If you want more tips on creating your capsule wardrobe, check out The Every Girl’s post.

I also recommend packing for the nearest season. In New Hampshire, it gets cold pretty quickly, so I’m bringing a lot of my winter gear and leaving behind my skimpier clothes. If you’re going to a Southern college, you most likely won’t be seeing cold weather until after your fall break. You can trade out your summer clothes for winter clothes during this break.

Once you get to campus, you’ll be receiving a crapload of t-shirts from the school and their organizations, and you might want to do more shopping once you get a feel for the fashion vibe on campus. Luckily, you’ll have plenty of space in your dorm’s wardrobe or closet to add to because of your smart packing.

Then, Add On

Once you’ve picked the must-haves, you may find that you have some extra room in your suitcases. Add what you want, but be smart with it. Try not to get in the same hoarding habit you might have back at home, there won’t be space for it in your dorm! Here are some suggestions for extras:

+ Minor decor and storage

If you bought some decor for your dorm, bring those. Things like wall prints (no frame), string lights, and little desk accessories are great items to bring along. Make sure you protect them appropriately so they don’t get messed up or broken in the journey. Collapsible/foldable storage bins are great also as long as they aren’t too heavy!

I wouldn’t stress so much about not having your ideal dorm together within the first few weeks of school. You can add to your room decor as time passes. It’s better to do this anyway because you’ll know the dimensions of your dorm once you’ve moved in.

+ Mementos

You may want to bring items that remind you of home like pictures and keepsakes. Moving to an out of state college can be tough, and having a piece of home with you will help relieve some of your feelings of homesickness.

+ Larger Accessories

Try to fit a weekender bag or duffel bag in your suitcase too. You might find yourself taking a three day trip and you won’t want to lug around the giant suitcase you brought with you.

Figure Out Your Airline’s Bag Regulations

Every airline has different rules concerning weight and how many bags you can check. Here are the top 3 airlines and their rules:

Southwest: First two bags are free and they must be under 50 lbs. Every bag checked in after that is $75.00

Delta: First bag is $25, the second is $35. Bags must be under 50 lbs.

United: First bag is $25, the second is $35. Bags must be under 50 lbs.

You want to spend as little as possible, so I don’t recommend checking in more than two bags if you can swing it. If your airline isn’t listed here, just Google search “_______ checked bag policy” and you should be able to find more information.

Maximizing Your Space

Now that you’ve figured out your packing limit, you’re probably wondering how you can make the most of this space. There are several ways you can fit everything you need between two suitcases.

Vacuum Bags

Vacuum bags are a great way to shrink down bulky items like your bedding and winter coats. If you haven’t heard of vacuum bags, they’re basically a giant ziplock bag that you can put tons of fabric in and then suction out all the air with your vacuum’s hose. This will compress your items until they’re flat. When you open them, the air will re-enter and your things will puff up back to normal. I’ll be using vacuum bags to pack my bedding, towels, and winter clothes.

Roll Your Clothes

Instead of folding your clothes, roll them up. You’ll be able to fit way more in that way, and it even prevents wrinkles. Want proof? Here’s a video comparing folding vs. rolling clothes. Spoiler: the guy rolling up his clothes had room to spare, and the guy folding his clothes had no room with clothes still left to pack.

Make Use of Empty Spaces

You may not realize it, but you’ll be carrying a lot of stuff inside your suitcase that could also be used as storage. Fill your shoes with socks(bonus points if you fill up your knee-high boots!). Put sensitive items like jewelry and perfume inside your purses or roll them in your clothes. For Girls: Stack your bras on top of each other, then place your folded underwear into the cups and fold the bras in half (this will help keep their shape and maximize space).

Wear Your Bulkiest Items

While I don’t recommend wearing your down coat and fleece jacket in the middle of August, try to eliminate some larger items from your suitcase. Wear tennis shoes, sweatpants, and a sweatshirt that you can take off on the plane.

Don’t Forget About Your Carry-On

You are usually able to bring your purse and a carry-on luggage item onto the plane. In the past, you might have just brought a backpack with you, but you should graduate to an actual carry-on suitcase. Most airlines have a 22 inch restriction, but Southwest allows 24 inches. Double check the rules for your airline and then buy the appropriate carry-on suitcase.

Bring your biggest purse, like a Longchamp tote, so you can carry your usual purse items plus your laptop and charger. In the carry-on, put extra items that are light but wouldn’t fit in your larger suitcases.

Does packing for an out of state college seem a little more doable now? I hope so!

I’ve created a printable packing list that will show you exactly what you should pack and what you should wait to buy in your college’s state.

Download Your Printable Here

Do you need any help? Let me know in the comments!

How to Use Your College Agenda (The Right Way)

How to Use Your College AgendaIt’s August 1st, which means the back to school craze is officially in full swing. Move-in day for me isn’t until September 6th, but I know a lot of you start in just a few weeks!

Between running to Target for the perfect throw blanket and getting lost in Ikea, you’ll want to pick up an agenda.

I usually abandoned my planners halfway through the year in high school. My assignments were due within a few days so it was easy to remember them.

In college, there’s so much more going on. Your assignments will be spread out, you’ll have much more activities, and generally more to keep track of. An agenda is crucial to staying organized and on top of things. Your agenda will be more than an organizer, it will be your best friend. 

Today is also National Ban.Do Agenda Day! If you don’t know about Ban.Do, they’re an awesome company that makes school & office supplies super cute and fun. You’ll find everything from agendas to stationary to phone cases! I got my agenda from there and I absolutely love it. This post is inspired by this day and will be featuring their Medium “I Am Very Busy” Agenda.

Let’s get started!

Choosing Your Agenda

Choosing Your Agenda

There are so many agendas out there. All you have to do is figure out which best suits your lifestyle. Agendas are definitely something you want to invest in, they may range anywhere from $15 to $65. I chose the Ban.Do planner in Medium because I wanted something a little more heavy duty. There is ample writing space in both the calendar sections and the day-by-day sections. This agenda also comes with tons of notes pages and fun artwork in between. I have a list of my top 7, college-proof agendas that you can’t go wrong with here:

Ban.Do 17 Month Agenda ($20-$32)

Day Designer Flagship Edition ($59)

Plum Paper Designs Student Planner ($16)

Bloom Planners Daily Planner ($15)

Erin Condren’s Life Planner ($55+)

Kate Spade 17 Month Agenda ($30-$40)

Lily Pulitzer Agenda ($18-$30)

If you aren’t sure if you’ll be an avid planner user just yet, I wouldn’t recommend splurging on the $40 or more ones. Test the waters with the lower priced ones and if you find yourself loving it, graduate to the master agendas.

Creating a System

If you already have your planner, it’s time to create your system. This is how you’ll organize and enter information into your agenda. It’s better to have an idea of how you want to do this before arriving on campus. Instead of fumbling around with your agenda and wasting time trying to get it together during classes, you would already have developed a plan.

Color Code

Get yourself a good pack of colorful pens. Then, divide up your life into colors. I created a key on the side of the calendar page that shows what’s what. Purple is for academics, pink is for any life reminders like going to the gym or doing laundry, and blue is for any blog stuff that needs to get done. I use the colors only in the calendar page so I can get a bird’s eye view of what I’ll be getting done that month.

Creating a System

Deciding What Goes Where

Your planner will most likely have a month grid, and then pages to write daily events. What are you going to put in each? I summarize events in the grid view and then get more specific in the daily view.  For set events, I put what’s happening in the grid, then time and location in the daily view. For classes, I put when the assignment is actually due on the calendar, and then in the daily view I’ll write in the days I actually want to work on the assignment. This goes the same for blogging. I typically only use pencil for daily events so it’s easier to switch them around (e.g. if I decide to work on an assignment on Tuesday instead of Thursday).

Creating a System

Use Cool Stuff

I highly recommend using stickers, washi tape, sticky notes, or any other cool tools to make your agenda pop. It makes being organized fun and motivates me to use it more. I put stickers for huge events that I’m looking forward to, or just to decorate around the place. Ban.Do comes with a set of stickers, but you can find tons at any hobby or stationary store.

Agenda Add-Ins

Other than blocking assignments and to-do’s there are a few things you should keep in your agenda for convenience. I’m all about working smarter, not harder. Put these things in your notes section or on a  piece of paper and keep it in your agenda.

+ Your class schedule (and where they’re located)

+ Any daily routines/reminders

+ Classroom resources- class websites, professors’ info and office hours, etc

+ General college resources -location of advisor’s office, medical center, phone # for emergencies, etc

+ Login information- student e-mail, dropbox, anything to do with school (don’t put anything you’d be devastated if someone got a hold of, like your blog login info)

How to Get Ahead

Your agenda is for way more than staying on top of things, you can get ahead with it too. There are a couple ways you can start off your semester ahead, and use the momentum to stay there.

After you make a final decision on which classes you’ll be taking, read through your syllabuses and enter the assignments you’ll have into your planner. This will save so much time in the long run. When you have free time, you’ll be able to see what assignments are coming up and finish them ahead of time.

Update your planner regularly. Sometimes life happens, or your professor happens, and you need to switch things around. Make sure you’re staying on top of events and updating them in your agenda. If you’re like me and hate the idea of having to scratch things out, get yourself some paper tape to cover up stuff that’s no longer happening. You can write over it and the prints are cute so you’ll be decorating your agenda too!

Manage your time well. This seems obvious, but you might be surprised how difficult it can be a few weeks into college. When you’re plotting out your month, make sure your work is divided evenly. There are some weeks where you’ll unavoidably have a ton of work to do. But, for the most part, try to keep yourself balanced. You may start off your semester all motivated and you’ll get so much done purely out of excitement, but you’ll burnout soon if you’re doing too much for too long.

Planning is the key to success. One of my favorite bloggers, Mattie James, always says, “If you’re making real-time decisions, you’re already a day late.” I couldn’t agree with this more from an academic and blogging standpoint. Know what’s coming and you’ll never be behind!

I’m so excited to officially start using my Ban.Do agenda today. Let me know which agenda you’re using and anything special you do with it in the comments!

Why You Need to Embrace Being Alone

“What a lovely surprise to finally discover how unlonely being alone can be.” -Ellen Burstyn

Why You Should Embrace Being AloneOur generation is filled with people who are so afraid of being alone. It’s filled with people who don’t know how to be alone. We often think that solitude equates to loneliness, which is far from the truth.

In high school, I was scared of being alone too. In an environment that celebrates extroversion and deeply misconstrues the opposite, I struggled with my own introverted tendencies. I thought there was something wrong with me when I preferred to go home and read a book while my friends were going out and seemingly making the most of their high school lives.

I quickly learned that my time spent alone was putting me miles ahead of my peers. I gained wisdom and an understanding of myself and the world around me that was noticeable to others. Solitude gave me the opportunity to think, reason, and discover myself in ways that couldn’t be possible if I was constantly interacting with people. This doesn’t mean that I never go out and never socialize– it just means that I value alone-time and thrive during these periods.

There are so many benefits that come with being alone. Even if you’re an extrovert who may not need alone-time to recharge, learning how to spend time with yourself can improve your relationship with yourself and others. I’m here to teach you how alone-time can ultimately help you, and how to embrace it without fear.

Being Alone Built My Confidence

Here’s the thing, if you’re sitting in your bedroom or house alone, you have nobody to socialize with except your conscience. You can finally hear yourself think, and for some, this is scary. You learn who you really are when all of those external influences fall away.

Being alone forces you to accept yourself, quirks and all, because everyone wants to enjoy their company.

It won’t happen immediately, but the more you get to spend time with yourself, the more you’ll become comfortable in your own skin. Your worst critic is yourself, and if you can please that one, your confidence will skyrocket. As a result, people will gravitate more to you simply because of your positive demeanor.

The nights in high school that I spent alone, I became more and more me. I learned what being an introvert meant and that it was okay to be one. I dove headfirst into creative adventures, and I was amazed by the many talents and strengths that presented themselves to me. I’m much more confident in my abilities. I love hanging out with myself because my own thoughts and revelations make me a very entertaining companion.

When you learn to appreciate yourself, the self that comes from the inside and isn’t influenced by your peers, you have won life.

There is nothing you can’t do when you reach a deep level of self-awareness and allow it to manifest externally.

This is important especially if you’re going into college for the first time. I expanded on the significance of self-awareness and how it relates to your next 4 years of college here.

I Stopped Being Reliant On Others for Happiness

Fact: You will never be lonely if you know how to be alone.

I have lots of friends who can’t stand being by themselves for more than a few hours. If they are, they feel friendless and become miserable.

This kind of lifestyle isn’t sustainable. Unless you force your friends to abandon their lives and stay in a giant house with you, at some point or another you will be left alone.

If you know how to entertain yourself, you will never have to be reliant on others’ presence for your happiness again.

Friends are amazing to have and to be around, but they have their own stuff going on. They won’t always be accessible to you.Why You Need to Love Being Alone

I stopped listening to the voice in my mind that told me I wasn’t a “normal” teenager if I wasn’t constantly surrounded by my peers.

I stopped feeling the need to fit in. I never succumbed to peer pressure because I wasn’t desperate for friendship.

This allowed me to form quality relationships instead of worrying about the quantity.

If you’re someone who is a serial dater (gets in relationships after just leaving one), or always needs social interaction to feel whole, I seriously recommend practicing being alone. You’ll be so much happier once you realize that you can be whole on your own.

I Became Smarter and More Creative

Statistically, you work better alone. Without the judgement of your peers or social pressure to conform, you are likely to become more creative. You’re free to discover and try new things. And, if you mess up? No one is watching! Boredom breeds creativity, and when you’re alone, you will get bored. That’s when you really start to have fun. One day I was bored, so I started playing piano again. I drew cool stuff, I wrote, I started a blog.

I was able to tap into a reserve of creativity that I had no idea was hiding there. 

“People who do a job that claims to be creative have to be alone to recharge their batteries. You can’t live 24 hours a day in the spotlight and remain creative. For people like me, solitude is a victory.” -Karl Lagerfeld

I also found myself becoming smarter. When you’re interacting with someone, you’re taking in so much information, but you don’t really get to process it. When I got time to myself, I could analyze and notice so much more about my surroundings.

You will gain a perspective that is like looking in on the world from the outside.

You’ll be able to make strong decisions and judgements from a logical standpoint rather than letting circumstances control you.

You’d be surprised how much your brain can do without the distraction of others’ presence and own ideas.

How to Be Alone

Now that you’re sold (hopefully), you’re probably wondering how you can maximize the benefits of your alone-time. I’m going to discuss some of the things I like to do when I’m alone. That being said, I encourage you to come up with your own activities and do things that you love because that’s the best way to grow.

Disclaimer: Don’t become a hermit. You do still need to go outside, and social interaction is important. Just to clarify.

Read Substantial Books:

Lately I’ve been interested in self-help and Philosophy books. I’ve started to stray away from fiction books because they can get repetitive especially in the Young Adult genre. Instead of switching between Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat every 3 seconds, I try (keyword being try) to pick up a book instead. Books are hands down better sources to build up your brain than social media. Find ones that will challenge you in some way (intellectually, emotionally, etc).

Start a New Project:

I am the master of starting new things and abandoning them. That’s okay, though. I still learn a lot in the process even if I don’t quite get to the end. Start projects, dive headfirst in them, and enjoy every moment. Find out what you love, and what you’re not so good at. You’ll discover and build your strengths here.

Have a Sense of Adventure:

Let yourself get bored, then battle the boredom. I mean, come on. We have the world at our fingertips, you can learn anything, do anything, and be anything all by yourself. If you’re bored for more than an hour, you’re not doing life right. Social Tip: If you bore yourself you probably bore other people. So once you learn how to be interesting on your own, people will find you interesting too.

Relax:

People often use their alone-time to simply chill out. This is an effective way to rebuild your energy and sense of balance. Watch Netflix, take a nap, have a luxurious bath, or journal. Take part in activities that center and calm you.

Go Out By Yourself:

This is probably the scariest part of learning how to be alone. Going to events by yourself can make you feel a little awkward and a little self-conscious. You might think that everyone notices that you’re alone, but in reality nobody cares. Go to a movie or café by yourself. You might meet new people who you would otherwise have never gotten to talk to if your friends were around.

In a society thats full of people who fear themselves, I challenge you to step out of your comfort zone. I challenge you to unabashedly become your best friend, to love who you are inside and out. Do something different. What is life worth if it’s spent doing what literally everyone else is doing? Remember, being alone is not lonely if you enjoy the company you’re with.

Cherish being alone, because that’s where you are truly free.

So, tell me: How do you like to spend time alone? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

5 Steps to Finding Your Dream College

The hunt for your dream college can be rough, I’ll give you that. But, it doesn’t have to be. I believe that everyone should be able to go to the college of their dreams or at least one very close to it. People say that the 4 years you spend in college are the pinnacle of your adolescence. They should never be wasted on a college you feel just so-so about!

Dartmouth College took me completely by surprise when I discovered it was my actual dream college. I had originally set my eyes on Stanford University (for about 4 years actually). But, after a visit on a west coast college tour, I realized I only had lukewarm feelings toward it.

However, Dartmouth swept me off my feet the moment I drove into the campus. Dartmouth met every vision that I had of my dream college. I’m sure I wouldn’t have landed on this treasure if not for these 5 steps.

If you’re knee-deep in the dream college search, or just starting, follow the tips below and you’ll narrow down your choices by far.

5 Steps to Finding Your Dream College

How to Find Your Dream College

1. START WITH A CLEAN SLATE

I had been enamored with the idea of Stanford University since I was 12 and my mom took me there while she was on a business trip. My expectations and imagination ran wild for 4 years, and when I returned at 16, I was disappointed by the reality.

If you’re hanging on to any college for whatever reason (parents are alumni, you saw it in a TV show once, etc) you’re going to have to get comfortable with the idea that it might end up not being the best fit. Make sure you haven’t fallen in love with the idea of a college.

Instead, you should keep a completely open mind. Don’t start your college search leaning one way or another just yet. You’ll need to ask yourself some questions first, which brings me to my next point.

2. SET YOUR STANDARDS

In order to weed out your dream college from the thousands you have to choose from, you should already have an idea of what you want by the time you start your heavy searching. Jot down what you see yourself doing in college, what it looks like, etc. Basically everything you imagine college being.

You need to set up the standards of your ideal college. You must do this in order to ensure that you’re finding the college that fits YOU, and not trying to fit yourself into a college that isn’t for you. 

 Can you answer these questions?

WHAT TYPE OF ACADEMIC PLAN?

It can be hard to pick an academic plan when you’ve never actually been to college before. You can divide up colleges and their academic curricula into two main categories: Liberal Arts colleges and Universities.

Liberal Arts colleges value the arts, humanities, and the sciences. They emphasize having a well-rounded education that requires a wider breadth of knowledge.

Universities are much larger schools that usually focus more on research. You are typically fixed in the major you choose and won’t need to branch out to other topics if you don’t want to.

DO THEY TREAT YOUR MAJOR WELL?

Some schools will teach your major differently or better than others. With my major, Cognitive Science, one college had a more technological approach to it and another took a scientific approach. I wanted the scientific approach. These nuances are important to take note of.

Some schools also teach certain majors better than others. I wouldn’t recommend going to a school that hardly pays attention to their Psychology department if you’re trying to major in that exact subject.

If you are undecided, narrow your major choices to at least 2-3 and research the top ranking colleges in those majors. You can even dig a little deeper into the colleges by looking at where graduates who studied your major are now.

WHAT TYPE OF CAMPUS SETTING?

There are three types of colleges: Rural, Suburban, and Urban. Each have their pros and cons and you want to choose carefully. Check out College Board’s page on the characteristics of each campus.

WHAT TYPE OF CAMPUS VIBE?

Do you love partying or are you a tad more reserved? Maybe you’re a monogram junky, and a preppy school would be good for you. Or maybe you’re a hipster and want to go to a school that really values social activism and staying #woke. Whatever the case, find the campus vibe that appeals most to your personality. College is for finding your people, your tribe, you know? You can’t do that if it’s difficult to relate to 90% of the student body!

You can include lots of other criteria in your college search, too. Maybe you plan on playing varsity sports and want a D1 level school. Proximity to home is another good one. I made sure I moved far away from the South!

How to Find the Colleges:

After you’ve set your standards, it’s time to find the colleges that meet them. Start with the broadest standard. This would be the academic plan or campus setting. The easiest thing to do is search rankings. If you’ve chosen the Liberal Arts curriculum, search “Liberal Arts college rankings” in Google.

Cut your coat according to your size and choose the colleges your high school performance best meets.

Then, narrow your search down further. Once you’ve chosen around 20 colleges, start checking out where each college is, where they rank in your particular area(s) of studies, and so on until you’ve whittled down your choice of colleges to the cream of the crop.

3. CREATE A HIERARCHY

After you’ve set your standards and found maybe 5 to 10 colleges that meet a majority, if not all of them, you need to create a hierarchy. Categorize the colleges by how close they meet your criteria. I also ended up ranking my colleges by difficulty to get into. I had 2 that I really wanted to go to, but were also the highest tier as far as acceptance rates. Then I picked 2 to 3 mid-level colleges that I had more than a 60% chance of getting into, and I was fine with them as well. Then I chose another 2 “fallback plan” colleges that met a majority of my criteria, my admittance was almost guaranteed, but wasn’t completely in love with.

The top 3 or 4 in your hierarchy should be the ones you focus on the most. These are colleges that you’d be totally okay with getting accepted to and are excited about.  

4. TAKE A COLLEGE TOUR

If you can budget for college tours, absolutely take them. I literally cannot stress this enough. I recommend visiting your top 3 colleges.

Every college sounds great on paper, but until you see it physically, you will never truly get an authentic feel for them.

Dartmouth was in the top 5 of my hierarchy, but it wasn’t my number 1 at first. It wasn’t until I actually visited the campus that it became my dream college. If you can’t visit, take the virtual tour online and do the most thorough research that you can. One of my favorite things to do was look up college vlogs on Youtube for each college on my list to get a closer look inside. (These searches will also help you get more of a feel for campus vibe and setting.)

5. RESEARCH, ADJUST, GET EXCITED

Depending on the dream college you’ve decided on, you may need to start kicking your ass into gear. Research more in-depth acceptance rates of your college.

If there’s a median ACT/SAT score or GPA of accepted students, you want to make sure you can get there or above that level by the time you start applying for colleges.

If the odds truly seem against you for that college, pick the next best thing and focus on that. But, still apply to the top one, you never know!

Now that you’ve found your college, it’s time to get excited and get passionate. I realize that it’s scary to get your hopes up about a college, especially if it has a really low acceptance rate.

However, your chances of getting in increase 100% (in my opinion, at least) when you show full-on passion for the college you’re applying to. Admissions boards can see right through an application and tell whether you’re actually excited about their college or are applying “just because”. 

A little advice: You know that saying “reach for the stars and you’ll end up among the clouds”? That’s the exact mindset you should have here. Shoot freaking high, you never know where you’ll land. Dartmouth was my first choice and also the one on my list that was hardest to get into. I did my best and succeeded. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, don’t miss out on opportunities because of self-doubt or fear of failure. You can do this!


Hey, you! Want more college advice and resources? Check out my most helpful posts here:

What They Don’t Tell You to Bring to College

Top 5 Places to Buy Your Dorm Decor

What to Do the Summer Before Freshman Year