Author: Monikah Schuschu

I Got Lucky: Making Peace with the Role of Chance in College Admissions

How did I get accepted to my dream school? The answer to that question is more complicated than many of us might like to admit. Certainly, my own hard work and talents mattered a great deal, but I’m just as certain that another factor played a role: sheer luck.

There are no guarantees when it comes to college admission season, and acknowledging this fact early on will help you to keep your expectations for the application process realistic. Here’s how to make peace with the role of chance in the application process without letting it discourage you from pursuing your dreams.

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Why College Orientation is the Best Social Opportunity You’ll Ever Have

Your college orientation presents an especially rich opportunity for you to socialize with others who, just like you, are looking for new friends and new experiences. There’s a very good reason for that: colleges actively engineer these orientation activities to help you meet and bond with your classmates. Here’s how they do it—and how you can make the most of this unique season of your life.

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Graduation-Related Tasks You Might Not Anticipate

It’s the spring of your senior year of high school, and graduation is near. You’re likely very busy juggling final exams, AP tests, award ceremonies, prom, and everything else that comes with being a graduating senior.

On the CollegeVine blog, we’ve covered the academic tasks you’ll need to take care of around graduation, like sending your final grade report to the college you’ll be attending. Here on the Zen blog, we’ve also addressed some activities that you may want to try to fit in before you leave for college, from organizing and packing to spending time with friends.

However, there’s another category of tasks to consider: practical, everyday tasks related to your transition out of high school. I don’t want to overwhelm you, but I do think it’s a good idea for you to keep these needs in mind as you prepare for the end of high school, so that you can plan to fit them into your busy schedule.

Here’s what you need to know to get your practical affairs in order before college—in particular, the things I wish I’d known when I was doing my own planning.

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How Much Should I Talk to My Parents in College?

Any way you slice it, starting college means substantially altering your relationship with your parents. If you’ll be living apart from your parents, as is the norm at most top-tier schools, the difference in your day-to-day life will likely be dramatic, both for you and for them In this context, it’s easy for communication—how much, when, and by what means—to become a source of uncertainty or even stress.

If you’re still in high school, and especially if you don’t have older friends or siblings to consult, you’re probably wondering what a “normal” or “average” college student’s relationship with their parents looks like. (Of course, this can be expanded to other family members as well.) Sure, you have your own preferences, but it’s also valuable to have some basic parameters to use for reference.

The truth is a little more complicated, and your eventual arrangement will depend upon decisions you make as a unique and specific family. Read on for more information about the breadth of “normal” college experiences, the needs you’ll have to address on both sides, and the importance of communication in coming up with a plan that works for you

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Should I Choose a College for Present Me or Potential Future Me?

One of the best parts of the college application process is that it gives you the opportunity to imagine multiple exciting futures for yourself. Maybe you’ll attend a college with an exceptional study abroad program and launch a glamorous career as a travel writer. Maybe you’ll get into biochemistry, study with an esteemed researcher, and someday find a cure for cancer. Who knows? In that moment, it seems like anything is possible.

When imagining these possible futures, however, it’s possible to get so wrapped up in fantasy narratives that you lose touch with your existing interests, needs, talents, and limitations. This can cause problems down the line if you later realize that that career or life plan isn’t right for you—especially if you chose your college based more upon that dream future than upon what you know about yourself and need right now.

It’s tempting to choose a college based upon who you wish you were, the figure you see in these potential futures, but given the probability that you’ll change and develop over your college years, it’s wisest to focus instead on your current needs, along with finding a school that will offer you room to grow. Read on for my take on why these priorities matter.

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