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My College Search Journey

This post is from a student, parent, or professional contributor. The opinions expressed by the author are their own and do not necessarily reflect the positions, viewpoints, or policies of Niche.

Owen, a young asian man, sits in a blue hammock. Behind him are green trees. One leg is propped up in the hammock and one is hanging down. He holds a peace sign in the air with one hand.

Everyone has a different way of approaching their college search, but if you are in a position where you are stuck, I am here to offer some insight.

You have probably heard the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” countless times in your life. As a kid, you could think of a thousand different options, but as a high school student, you have to seriously consider potential careers.

Know that you can still achieve whatever you want to, whether your path is different from when you were a kid or if your dreams stayed the same.

It wasn’t until my junior year when I started to think about what I wanted to do in the future. I considered several careers, and I finally found the one I am most passionate about: genetic counselor.

Now, this may change because like high school, college can change your mind.

The key to figuring out your future plan is to discover what makes you passionate, what sets your mind in a flurry of thoughts.

It will take some self-reflection. I needed time to sit down and think deeply while researching. What helped me understand what I wanted to study was my interest in genetics and heritable diseases, biotechnology, and my birth defect.

Figuring out my future career path made figuring out my major easy, but it can be the most difficult part for some students. While it helped make me narrow down my colleges, it is okay to be undecided! Academic advisors are there to help you in college.

As an incoming freshman, I will be majoring in biology and minoring in psychology. I plan to continue to graduate school for my studies to be a genetic counselor. 

How To Narrow Down Your College List

Another step I took in narrowing my college list was considering sports. As a student-athlete in high school, I had to think about if I wanted to continue playing in college.

See if a D2 or D1 athletic scholarship is attainable if you are worried about money. If not, D3 athletics can help you continue on with your love of sports.

Looking for a team that fit me was challenging because the process was intense. I had to sign their recruiting forms, get to know the coaches, see if they could watch me run (or play), and then tell each coach whether I would be playing for them or not. 

Finally, I considered factors important on anyone’s college search journey: cost, distance, student life and extracurricular activities, and the campus itself.

For me, cost and distance were at the top of my list of priorities. I wanted to go to an affordable college out of state.

Luckily, I found the perfect college far enough away that offered a huge merit scholarship followed by more scholarships and grants. The team was very welcoming, and they made sure to tell me about being a freshman in college. 

One of the last tasks to do on your college search journey is to apply and wait to hear back. For me, it was the most enjoyable part of the journey because I got to tell colleges all about myself!

Make sure to explain what makes you different and tell them what your goals and dreams are – be heard.

In my personal essay, I wrote about how being different affected me and how it helped me be the person who I am today. I made sure to include the hardships and challenges I faced as a Chinese American who is gay with a microtia right ear.

In the essay, I also talked about how I grew up and flourished as I overcame my challenges, and I even included some poems I had written.

Once you hear back from colleges, you will need to decide which college you want to go to. Make a comparison chart to compare the cost, campus life, and academics.

Then, it’s a process of elimination until you have found your perfect college! For me, the college comparison was the most difficult part.

All the colleges I applied to (12 total) had accepted me, so eventually, I found that Albion College was the one for me. Make sure to research as much as you can and do not be afraid to ask for help! 

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Author: Owen Zhongmin Poling

Owen is a student athlete for Albion College who is majoring in Biology and minoring in Psychology while running XC and Track. Besides focusing on academics, he likes to learn more about genetics and biotechnology. Owen likes to read literature books and hang out with his friends during free time. His future plan after college is to continue on to graduate school to be a Genetic Counselor.