Home away from home…at least for the next hour or so, and then it’s off to the North Hills of Pittsburgh for more high school visits and a definite stop at Primanti Brother’s for lunch (you did read Michael’s post on travel food, didn’t you??)
My week in and around Pittsburgh (ahem, excuse me, the “City of Champions”) has been so much fun. Great questions from engaged young scholars who are busy preparing applications–with one of those apps heading to Carlisle in a few short months!! Can’t wait to be on the receiving end.
During this week’s visits I found myself asking students what they were finding to be the most stressful aspect of the college process. I was honestly just really curious to learn what was keeping them up at night. Not surprising to hear that they ALL had an answer to that question! I heard: essay writing, supplements, finding the right fit, keeping track of all of the required pieces of different applications…and more. I felt anxious just listening to this list.
This can surely be a stressful time in the life of a high school senior. Classes, clubs, teams, family, social life, leadership and, on top of it all, college applications are consuming every second of your life. In all of that noise and expectation, I truly hope that the high school senior is taking a moment to pause and ask themselves “What do I really want out of the next four years?”
This college search process should begin and end with self-reflection. What is your learning style? What motivates you? What types of relationships do you expect to have with faculty? What type of work do you want to do in your undergraduate years? What do you want your community to feel like? And while you might not know exactly what you want to do at the end of that time (and please know that we don’t expect you to have it all figured out right now) you should also be asking “What are graduates of this college doing one year out of college? Five years out of college? Twenty years out of college?
All of this matters a great deal, and if you begin with self-reflection and questions like these–if you really put yourself in the driver’s seat of your college search–I have no doubt that you will end up in exactly the right place. As for that essay–write about what you know and what you love. Check spelling and grammar, invite someone else to read over it, but not make so many edits that it loses your voice entirely. The application is a chorus of voices–your regional counselor as your advocate, your high school counselor, your teachers and, of course, YOU! In that full chorus, we are looking for your voice.
Now, off to my next visit of the day and then, on to the best pastrami sandwich you have ever had in all your life.