Black Collegiate Insider: How to Create a Meaningful Plan For Your College Search

Higher Education —How Do I Decide Where to Attend? The Top 5 Considerations:

 It is that time of the year for many high schoolers throughout the country—time to visit institutions of higher education and to apply for admission. Congratulations! You are going to college! LEVEL UP!

 This process can be confusion, challenging, exciting, and/or frustrating.

How do you know where to apply, which financial supports are available, if there is a program that fit your goals, and if the culture of the institution will support you as a student of color and offer an environment that allows for your success.

 With many more questions than answers, our response as a community may be to give up before we even begin in this space. Oppression is real, and in the space of education and identity work, it can be exhausting!!!! (FrFr!) This article is intended to provide you with some insights to successfully navigate the landscape of your admissions options in higher ed.

  1. Geography & Temperature—You would be surprised how important this one is. You might love the campus, the program, the people, but if the weather isn’t it—listen, that is NOT going to change. Of course, I’m not talking a rain shower or two…we’re talking desert conditions when you are a 4 seasons type, or a climate where sunshine is optional (I’m looking at your upper Midwest!). Be honest about what kind of weather you just cannot do and consider taking those schools off your list. You are committing to an entire experience at these school. There is no reason to have everything call apart right off the bat, because the weather is not what you envisioned.
  2. Request More Information—If the school is in an area that works for you, now it’s time to get information. The great news is that you can get most of the information you need online at the school site. However, if you want the school to send you glossy prints, most of the time you can request them online. If you are looking for something from a specific department or area of focus. Call the school’s admission’s office if you need more specific information. Don’t forget to get information in any of the areas listed below:Programs/Internships
    • Scholarships/Grants/Loans
    • Student Organizations
    • Demographics
    • Housing Costs and Requirements (roommates, etc.)
    • Talk to alums
    • Look at success rates/data (attrition and post-graduation)
  1.  Campus Climate (I’m Not Talking About Degrees or Degrees!!)—So, you love the weather, you like what you saw and heard, and you are down to try it out. Now what??? Check. It. Out. It’s time to go get the vibe!!! See what’s up. Schedule an overnight or a weekend trip. Stay with another student whose interests match your own. Some other considerations are whether you want to
    • HBCU vs. Mostly White Colleges (Do you have a preference?)
    • Legacy or Trailblazer (Do you want to go to school where you family members have already gone, or do you want to blaze your own individual path?)
    • Professors of Color (does this matter to you?)
    • Protests and Other Geographic Unrest (Have there been issues like this on the campus? How recently? What were the results?)
    • Universities vs. College(s) (Opportunities for continued education if that matters)
    • Supports (academic, spiritual, mental health…)
  1. Other Visit Considerations—Bring someone else who’s opinions you value (but who won’t be overbearing). This will help you when you return home to highlight the pros and cons with another set of eyes. Also, visit more than once (i.e., during the week, weekends, etc.).
  1. Decision—Consider all the information you have gathered. If you get scholarships, grants, etc., it is still important to consider other hidden costs of living in the area. If you need to get a job while you are in school, we will post another blog on that, but give that some thought and what it will need to look like holistically.

This is an amazing time in your life and for your family as well. I have been in this space (repeatedly) and graduated successfully each time! You can too! Make it the experience that you need and deserve. Sending you love and much success!!!

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