Overwhelmed by College Options?

Pressure of School Choice Can Lead to Mental Breakdown

Overwhelmed by College Options?

By Molly Dennie , Staff Writer

As Izzy Detherage, fellow Brebeuf junior, said of the college search, “There are a lot of different options and so much information available that it can be overwhelming, especially when people make it seem like this is the biggest decision of your life and there’s only one right choice.”

As a junior, I have been pressured by peers, parents, and teachers alike, much to my chagrin, to start the search for my perfect college. I have ventured through the foreign world of strange college terms and futile internet searches. I’ve flipped through almost every single page of a book containing every grueling detail except for what I actually want to know on “the best” 368 colleges as of 2009, and tried to memorize every fact I’ve been told while maintaining a reasonable impression of the school on college tours.

Although it seems like I’ve done a ridiculous amount of work, I have been informed several times that I have, in fact, done basically nothing. Time after time, my mother has told me there is more research I need to do and more people I need to talk to.

But why is looking for a college so hard and so stressful? Shouldn’t we just be able to put our preferences into some magic machine and out pops a college that is tailored to our every desire?

Apparently not. In fact, college has even become almost a buzz word among students, especially juniors. No one wants to talk about it because it just stresses us out to think about, and if someone brings it up, they are likely to get yelled at. When I told a few of my friends that I was writing an article about colleges, one of them immediately goes, “Ew, college.” Pretty much everyone can agree that the search for college is way too stressful, and here are just a few reasons why:

  1. There are approximately 50 billion colleges just in America.

It feels like every time I turn around, I’m hearing about some new college that someone thinks is just perfect for me. There are so many schools that it’s hard to wrap my head around it. How am I supposed to tell them all apart and keep straight which school has this aspect I like and which school has that one program?

  1. They are all essentially the same.

Every college you could possibly talk to will try to convince you of how beautifully unique they are. But they are lying to you. You know why? Because there are probably 20 schools out there that will tell you the exact same reasons they are so special. Junior Marly Beck pointed out that each school brags about all the clubs they have, but in reality each school has tons of clubs, and most of them will reappear from school to school. There are tons of options that you can put together, but when it comes down to it, you’re still just gonna be sitting in a lecture hall, writing papers all day.

  1. I have no idea what I actually want in a college.

Size, location, public or private, environment, selectivity, costs, financial aid, possible majors, possible minors, job opportunities, Greek life, and about 62 other things. All of these are apparently necessary in the college decision, but I also don’t know what I’m looking for in a single one of these categories. Since I’ve never been to college before, I don’t know any of my preferences and no one else who’s already been can tell exactly what I would want.

  1. What am I going to do with the rest of my life? I don’t know.

As teenagers, most of us have no idea what we want to do for the rest of forever, so how are we supposed to pick a school that is sure to have a great program that the people who are to later employ us will be impressed with? Senior Samantha Marks says, “I have no idea what I want to do with my life and you’re supposed to choose based upon what you want.” We’re asked to figure out the rest of our lives when we’re still in our teens, when we have exactly no idea what we want to do for sure.

  1. I don’t actually know anything about college and what I should be looking for.

Colleges all have this extremely verbose complex of terms and facts and figures that are supposed to make sense and point you to exactly what you want, but instead just leave you ten times more confused than you were before you started. They say things like, “accreditation” and “master promissory note.” What does that mean? I don’t know. I’m sure there are some really great things about all the schools I’ve looked at, I just have no idea because they don’t speak English, they only speak College.

Conclusion: I will be home-schooled for college. Actually, probably not, but I am definitely aware that my frustrations on the matter are far from over.