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"Au revoir": Off to College! But what are the steps students have to take before their rendezvous away?

Every Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Graduation party comes with a couple things: family, food, and, of course, an aunt, uncle, or grandparent asking,"Have you started thinking about where you want to go to school?" Instead of the common "I don't know", what if students had an answer to give?

The word ,college, seems daunting to many students today, but many question as to why this is. Students and parents alike are pointing to the statistics and facts of today's college atmosphere. Many of these include:

Please visit these sites to read the full articles with these statistics and more information:

https://thebestschools.org/magazine/21-scary-facts-college/

https://www.teenlife.com/blogs/10-surprising-facts-about-college

There is no doubt that picking a college to attend is a difficult decision, but how, when, and where should this decision be made?
The truth is that this decision is something that takes years of thought, research, and questioning. Each year, this decision comes closer and closer to a reality. Here are some people who have started thinking about their future in college:

Enlightened Eighth Graders:

Cassie Ryan, eighth grader at Centennial Middle School here in South Lyon, has some overwhelming feelings about eighth grade. "...they are becoming super strict with us. I have one teacher and she doesn't even take late assignments because she says that they don't take late assignments in high school." Most eighth graders agree that the transition of teachers treating middle school students like high schoolers is tough to get used to.

Cassie explains that in eighth grade, college is definitely not the main focus. "They are barely preparing us for college. I don't really know, they like never talk about it," explains Cassie. Cassie reveals that plenty of eighth graders have their eye on college, but their main focus for the future is looking to high school.

" Yes [I've started thinking about where I want to go to college]. But not academic wise, just like where I want to cheer in college. Michigan is a 'we'll see', and [ I also want to go to] Western Michigan University because both of my parents went there and I've already done stuff with their cheer program," Cassie reflects about where she may like to attend college after her next four years attending SLE.

Factious Freshman:

“ I’m not sure about where I want to go ,but I know that I want to be a doctor," says Maia King, freshman here at East, as she stresses about the idea of picking a college to attend after her high school days are over. Many freshman have a slight idea of what they would like their occupation to be, but not what college they would like to attend.

Although she doesn't know where she wants to attend after 2022, Maia does explain what students need to do in order to get accepted to the college of his or her choice, "Have good grades and make sure that you are doing extracurricular [activities] like volunteering and sports to make yourself look good.” Like many other freshman, Maia is working hard at putting many of these things into action, like joining this year's dive team and studying for every test and quiz, to make sure that she can become a doctor one day. Many other freshman have joined clubs, for example, the number of freshman members of student council is at an all time high!

Savvy Sophomores:

After a PSAT and a year of high school under the belt, sophomores are becoming increasingly weary of their futures. Sophomore at SLE, Hannah Becker, is one of the students who have started thinking about what university she will attend. “ Yes. I’ve been thinking about Notre Dame, University of Michigan, Western Michigan, University of Minnesota, and University of Indiana, but I’m still open to more searching," exclaims Becker as she rattles off multiple colleges that she's excited about seeing. Including Becker, many sophomores are becoming more and more intrigued with university life.

Although many sophomores have big visions of where they want to attend school, there are still concerns of what they have to do in order to get accepted. Becker said, "I’ve started studying after taking my PSAT and doing some of the example booklets that they gave us before the PSAT freshman year. [Plus] I play a sport so that keeps me pretty busy but, I’ve thought about joining clubs like Student Council and NHS my junior year [to make sure that I can get accepted]."

Jittery Juniors:

The SAT, recruiting for sports, and of course, the larger selection of AP classes can only mean one thing, junior year. Junior at East, Emma Collins, says that these are definitely some of the things that she's worried about, “[Junior year is] busy. There is a lot just to think about, in terms of classes and choices to make.”

Emma, like may other juniors, has already started the long process of studying for the SAT. Specifically, Emma studies with an SAT tutor once a week. “Yes. The ACT and SAT score, the GPA, and the extracurricular activities are all things that I have thought about [to help me get into college]," reviews Collins about what she will need to do in order to get into her dream school. The junior class in particular, despite the stress of six school classes, always keep an eye on what specifically will help them get into college. This includes joining clubs like NHS, with the first year of induction being this year, and Student Council, with this year's junior class council almost doubling!

“Yes of course I have! I would like to go Vanderbilt because I love the location, because it’s away from Michigan, and the size of the college is not super big," exclaimed Emma after the thought of her attending Vanderbilt. Like Collins, many juniors in the class of 2020 are becoming more and more interested in the idea of going to school in another state, with the intrigue of seeing new faces and places.

Sophisticated Seniors:

"Personally, there is not a ton of school work for me. There is actually less for me this year than in years past. The most work comes when the duties of senior year kick in like applying to college, scholarships, and being accepted," confesses Matthew Emery, senior here at SLE. Matthew, like many other seniors, are taking a chill pill on all hard classes and continue to put more stress on the college application system.

Matthew is planning on attending Michigan State University starting in 2019. But, this decision comes from lots of time of hard work and planning to lead up to receiving that acceptance letter. "I have worked hard to get the grades and GPA that I have, as well as joining a lot of extracurriculars, volunteering, working, etc. I always had the dream of getting into college, and that fueled me to do well."

Many seniors admit to the fact that admissions into college are very strenuous and time consuming. Matthew explains, "I procrastinated the actual application and essay because I was really stressed about it. The process itself is not very difficult, it’s actually fairly easy, the difficult part is actually submitting and making sure all of the information is perfect."

Students tend to become more and more worried about the college application process later into their four years of high school. But how have these decisions that students make in their last couple years of high school impated them?
The only way to find out is to ask someone who actually has been through it.

Courageous College Students:

Kahley Czupek, junior at the University of Wisconsin, can only describe her college experience in one word, "Busy." She explains," Balancing school, work, clubs, greek life, and social life is always super stressful."

This busy nature may be a result of an observation that Kahley had, " I have to actually study and work hard in college where I could coast through high school and [still] do well." Many other college students and former college students will agree with the fact that the workload and work type in college is much more self driven compared to the work that students complete in high school.

Although the classes may be self driven, Kahley explains that in some ways these classes are a lot easier than ones that she took in high school. "However, since I like my classes more now than in high school it can also be easier in some ways." Seniors this year also admit that they are excited to take some more classes that appeal to their interests in college.

" Don't overwhelm yourself with too many applications. If you're doing more than ten, that's too many. I applied to four schools and that was just fine. The process is only stressful if you're applying to too many [schools]," evaluates Kahley about the stresses of applying for college senior year.

When it comes to getting that you need in order to get accepted to the college of your choice, Kahley reminds students, "Besides GPA, being involved is what sets you apart from a majority of students. I was in clubs in high school, rode on a horseback riding team, was camp counselor, and volunteered. Additionally, for a lot of schools just being involved isn't enough, having leadership experience that will give you experience on both your application and essays."

" I just had a feeling every time I visited the Wisconsin campus that I knew that I wanted to be here... I just kinda knew that I loved it here and getting accepted was one of the best moments. I cried then immediately accepted and paid my initial down payment," says Kahley as she reminds all seniors and juniors that are looking at committing at colleges about how to know that students are picking the right school for them.

Adventurous Adults:

2017 graduate of the University of Iowa, Matt Drew, could say none the less of missing his years in college. Matt explains, "[My years in college could be described as] memorable. You know, I’m still in really close contact with all my friends from college and we can go back and remember all the fun that we’ve had. So I would say very memorable.”

One of the things that Matt remembers fondly was his time as president and member of greek life in Iowa. He explains how the brotherhood of fraternity is one that he will never forget, and was his favorite part of college. "Honestly, the most fun that I’ve ever had was being able to live with my best friends. It was by far the best time ever that I’ll have. I lived with five of my best friends my senior year and even if we all had a crappy or stressful day we are all still going home and seeing all your best friends. I think that made a huge difference as far as having a more positive outlook at all the stress that piles up with college," says Matt.

Although greek life may be one of the best parts of college, many college students agree that one of the most difficult parts are the differences between high school work and college level work. Matt remembers, "I would say that the same answer to every high school is about a five. College is a completely different animal. Not only is the work different but I feel like a lot of kids in high school find a way just to skate by and they just get good grades without putting in the full amount of effort needed. With college, that’s just not a thing. You get the outcome of the work that you put into it."

"The most stressed that I have even been through was learning to manage budget and manage the money that you get and the dues that you pay every couple months. I remember being short on money a few times and being really stressed out about that, so that was a very stressful time," recalls Matt about the most hectic times at the University of Iowa. Plenty of college students explain how one of the most challenging parts isn't the school work and academics, but it's living on your own emotionally and financially for the first time.

Matt reminds everyone of one thing to keep in mind in college,"The biggest advice I could give when choosing a school, is that I would say no matter what school or what program that you end up in, the school name won’t matter a the end of the day. No matter what school you go to, what you put into it is what you get out of it."

"Life after college is everything that I’ve wanted it to be. That just kind of came with the work that I put into college. It’s all about setting a goal early on. And, no matter what happens, never diverting from that goal and never stopping to think that you can achieve it," Matt explains how college has impacted his life after sprouting his graduation cap and gown.

As time goes on, we can all see how the perception of college education can change from person to person and time to time. But, even though people's ideas of college are different, there are a couple of things that many college students can share for advice to anyone:

"But, when you get that denial [from a college that you applied to], it’s all about having a positive outlook after that. Realizing that there are hundreds if not thousands of opportunities out there and just because one place didn’t accept your application, does not mean that you’re not going to have an amazing opportunity going forward."- Matt Drew

"Remembering assignments and studying with work and officer positions in my club and sorority is a lot... My best advice is to get a good planner." - Kahley Czupek

"If you’re studying a lot in high school, and gian good study habits then I would say that it prepares you. But if you’re not studying not that much or that hard then studying is something that you’re going to have to learn in college because you cannot skate by without studying.” - Matt Drew

" While finding my perfect school during tours, not everyone does [find their perfect school] and that's totally okay. Pick a school that best meets what you're looking for and work hard on the application. So many people transfer schools after freshman year so when you do accept a school, it's okay to be hesitant or change your mind." - Kahley Czupek

"You only learn so much in the classroom. So, it’s really important that you gain that out of the classroom experience. I would say that same thing about college. You probably learn 15%-20% of the things that you’re going to use in real life in the classroom. Everything else that you learned in college is outside of the classroom like social skills and things that you want to be." - Matt Drew

" It [college] is always awkward for a month or two until you get settled and find some friends. Even still, I switched who I hang out with a lot all freshman and sophomore year. No matter how long it feels like its taking, you will find your group of people that make you happy." - Kahley Czupek

"When I started out in college, my GPA was not good. I think I had about a C average and I came from high school with about an A average. It was really hard for me to alter the path that I was going down. I strayed away from my goal. So, I continued working hard for it and it’s been great. My door has been open to so many different things and experiences that lots of people my age don’t get to do so it’s definitely everything I wanted it to be.” - Matt Drew

The truth is that everyone's experience with picking out where to attend college is different, but it all comes from asking questions, doing research, and experimenting on different campuses. Here at East, we're lucky enough to have some awesome counselors and career advisers that students can sit down with and get some help with sometimes difficult college decisions.

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