College Questions: Answered!

by - Wednesday, February 25, 2015

I get so.many.emails. asking different questions about college. Honestly, not having an older sibling I had the same exact questions, but I didn’t have anyone I could ask them to. I’m so glad that people have reached out and asked me those questions because I desperately wanted them answered when I was going through the process too!

Starting the college process can be a mix of emotions. You're excited, nervous, overwhelmed, unsure, an array of emotions! Trust me, that’s exactly how I felt. I didn’t know if I was over my head excited or terrified to leave home. I felt like I was driving (speeding) into a dark tunnel and had absolutely no idea what was on the other side waiting for me. It’s a confusing process and as the oldest it was a lot of trial and error for my parents and I. So I am going to try to answer all of the questions you could possibly have about college in this post.  And if you have any other questions that I didn’t cover, email me and I’ll be sure to answer it and add it to list!!

Other posts that might also answer your college related questions:

College Application Tips (complete with organizational print out)

1.    How does the application process work?

Every school is different! Some states have a common application for all their state schools on a state website and then you can just click which one you want to submit it to. Another popular website is The Common App now is home to hundreds of school’s application and it is the same application for all schools and you can pick which schools you submit it to. I would check to see what schools of the ones you want to apply to are on the common app because it can save a whole lot of time! Some schools may have a supplemental essay specific to the college which will be listed on the application and the website will tell you! The third most common way applications are done is through that particular school’s website. Some schools have an application for only them and then directions for that is usually on their website.

To say organized with all your applications print out this printable in this post!

2.     Should I room with my best friend?

I would suggest not rooming with your best friend going into college. Just because you’re best friends doesn’t mean you would live well together. Try to branch out and room with someone you don’t know as well. My roommate and I were randomly put together and not only do we live well together, now we are the best of friends! Living with someone new can force you to meet new people too, and this doesn’t mean you still can’t be best friends with your highs school best friend!

3.    How many times should I take the SAT’s or ACT’s.

Just to clarify you’re allowed to take the SAT’s or ACT’s as many times as you want. However I definitely don’t suggest taking it more than 3 times! Not only is it expensive, it’s also exhausting! Realistically you probably couldn’t take it more than 4 times. Most people take it in their Junior year and then possibly the beginning of their senior year. You have to submit your scores to colleges though so most peole try to get it out of the way before applications are due. The average to take the SAT/ACT would probably be 2 or 3 times.

4.    How do you find a roommate? Do you get to choose?

It's different at every school. There is a website called roomsurf where you can take a quiz and they will match you with other new freshman at your school so you can see who you would room well with! Also at a lot of other schools kids meet people online through the Facebook page for your class at new school (for example, ours was set up as people started to get accepted and it was called “Furman University Class of 2017”). People also meet potential roommates at open houses such as Accepted Student Weekends. However, at Furman where I go to college, they require (or strongly encourage) you to go random roommate. All freshman take a really long quiz about their living habits (when you study, how late you stay up, how often you go out, etc) that covers basically anything and everying you would want to know about your future roommate. Furman then hand matches you with another incoming freshman based on those quizzes. However at most schools you can choose who your roommate is if you know someone also going to that school that you want to be roommates with. 

5.    How do I get to know my roommate?

As for getting to know your roommate, I think it takes time! My roommate and I are extremely close and we do tons of things together. However I do think it is a balance. Sometimes if you're with that same person 24 hours a day it can get old and you can get into stupid fights. My roommate and I are both involved in very different things on campus so we really don't see each other until classes and meetings are over in the late afternoon. We do a lot of our studying together and sometimes on the weekends we'll have roomie dates where we will go get ice cream or go to the movies together! Take the time to get to know your roommate and even if you don't happen to become best friends make the effort to respect her space. I highly recommend doing a roommate contract in the beginning of the year.

6.    Suite style bathrooms vs. community style

This totally depends on the school and what residence hall you live in at that school. My freshman year I lived on a hall that was considered suite style which means that I shared a bathroom with my roommate and the room next to us. The bathroom was connected to our room and the room next door (often called and Jack and Jill bath). So there was 4 of us total sharing a full bathroom.  

Pro of suite style: Super super convenient
Con of suite style: Often times you have to clean it yourself and they don’t supply toilet paper (however this depends on the school)

This year I live on a hall where the bathrooms are hall (or community) style. There are two large bathrooms at both ends of the hall and each bathroom has 4 showers. I love the community style bathroom and I've never had a problem getting a shower when I needed it.

Pro of community style: You get to interact with the people on your hall a lot, and you don’t have to clean it!
Con of community style: you have to walk down the hall to get to it, and you have to share a bathroom with lots of other girls!

There are pluses and minuses to both and I truly think I could be happy with both!

7.    Is it true that college is better than high school?

I think it totally depends on who you are. Some people really enjoyed their time in high school more than they enjoyed their time in college. I personally like both, fortotally different reasons. College is a blast because it's like a sleepover with your friends every night. You are surrounded by great people and I have made some life long friends here in college. I think that you grow closer to college friends faster than your high school friendships because you are spending so much time together and you’re away from your family. However, college courses are hard and my work load is significantly larger and harder than my work in high school. College can become stressful because you have to worry about your future and what you want to do in the the long run, but I'd say the prosdefinitely outweigh the cons.

8.    How do you adjust to your new life away from home?

Adjusting to college takes time and it's different for everyone. The first semester can be rough because everything is so different and you are adjusting to a whole new lifestyle that you’re not used to. But it just takes time and once you have learned how to live on your own it's hard not to love college! It just takes time! I think that the first semester is the hardest, and if you ever really struggling adjusting always remember that every college most likely has a counseling office that can really help your adjustment!

9.    What should I get involved in on campus?

I think it totally depends what you are interested in and what school you go to. At my school I am in a sorority, however since my school is so small it’s a lot more relaxed than at a typical school. I love my school and have a passion for telling people about how great it is. So I am a school ambassador and give tours to prospective students. I also serve on the student conduct board. I think it really depends where you go, but I have met a great group of friends in all of those organizations. I highly suggest getting involved in different groups on campus! I suggest going to the campus activity fair in the beginning of the semester to see what kind of organizations your school has. If not there is usually always a list of all the organizations on your school website.

10. Should I join a sorority?

At my school I am in a sorority, however since my school is so small it’s a lot more relaxed than at a typical school. I think it totally depends on the individual and the school. If you do decide to rush here are my tips and what I wore during my recruitment process.

11.  What happens if I get sick?

We have an infirmary, which is like a small doctors office! They have a few nurses and a doctor; it's also open all the time and located centrally on campus so we can go whenever we need to! Most schools have something very similar. You don't have to go to class if you are sick, but it's always your responsibility to make up the work that you miss. 

12. Are college classes a lot harder than high school classes?

College classes are definitely more challenging. I had the same fear coming to college too, don’t worry! However, the good news is is that usually you have a lot more time to do the work. I think that’s the difference between high school and college classes. For example, last semester I got out at 11:20 3 days a week! It depends on the class, however typically college classes have less busy work than high school classes. Often times I’ll have a midterm, a final, a participation grade, and maybe 1 project or paper for your entire grade. So I’ve found it’s more bigger assignments that take a lot longer to complete rather than a worksheet every night. Some classes might also have you prepare for the following class by completing reading the night before. While it’s definitely harder, it’s also just different. Don’t stress, you’ll be able to do it! Your classes and teachers have prepared you well!

13. How far out should I looking for a roommate and getting my stuff together?

I started getting things for my dorm at the beginning of summer! I have a great college packing list here! Looking for a roommate however, you could start looking as soon as you decide and are committed to a school!

14. When do applications come out?

Totally depends on the school and typically the college will have all that information online for you. However, a lot of college release their applications August 1st (in the summer before your senior year).  

15.  When should I start touring colleges?

Totally depends on you! I would suggest starting sometime in your junior year. I toured my first college Christmas break of my Junior year. I would also take advantage of the summer in between your junior and senior year to tour colleges. However I have heard of some sophomores starting to tour colleges! I guess you can never start too early!

16. How do you know which college is right for you?

Don’t worry I never got “that feeling” either. My choice was for more logical reasons rather than emotional reasons. I had an insanely hard time choosing but I think it’s ultimately where you could see yourself fitting in and thriving the most. You can kind of read more about my decision here.

17. How do you pick your classes?

Totally depends on the school! At my school we take 4 classes at a time and we pick them online through a lottery system a few months before the next semester starts. You also will usually have an advisor in your major to help you pick and talk about what class you have to/ should take. As a freshman you will probably pick your classes online the summer before you start. Your school will tell you though!

18. What is a liberal arts school?

A liberal arts school is “a college with an emphasis on undergraduate study in the liberal arts and sciences.” (via) “Students in the liberal arts generally major in a particular discipline while receiving exposure to a wide range of academic subjects, including sciences as well as the traditional humanities subjects taught as liberal arts.” (via)

I go to a liberal arts school and while I take classes in my major I also have other requirements that I have to fulfill in other departments. So even though I am a communication major I have taken history, math, science, and art classes.

19. Should I bring a car to school?

I think this totally depends on the person, location of your school, and how much it costs to have a car on campus. I definitely don’t think you have to have a car there. Most schools have some kind of shuttle that will take you to the closest Wal-Mart or grocery store. Or there are usually plenty of upper classmen or even classmates your age with cars! My roommate doesn’t have a car and is completely fine!

20. How many schools should I apply to?

Again, totally depends on the person. I applied to the higher number of schools (I applied to 11). Some things you should keep in mind, applications are expensive. Typically applications are around $50. So I would only apply to the schools you could really see yourself at. I would also include at least on reach school and at least one safety school.

21. What should I make sure I do on a tour?

22. What does it mean to be deferred from a school?

To be deferred from a school basically just means they are putting off their decision about you. They haven’t decided if you are accepted or denied yet so it doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t end up getting in. I got differed from a school and I ended up being accepted a few months later!

23. What’s the difference between early decision, early action, and regular decision?

These are typically the three different applications deadlines.

Early decision- this application is binding. Which means you can only apply to one school early decision. When you apply early decision to a school it means you know for sure that you want to go to this school if you get in, some people apply to their first choice school early decision if you know for sure that is someplace you want to be. If you get accepted early decision it means you have a binding commitment to go to this college and must deny any other acceptances you receive. Oh, and applying early action you usually find out before the other deadlines! (Tip: sometimesschools will offer you less scholarship money if you apply early decision because they know you are already committed to going there no matter how much scholarship you get, however sometimes it is easier to get in than the other two deadlines)

Early Action-This is a non-binding deadline. You find out find out before the regular decision so that’s the main bonus of this application. However this application is usually due before the regular decision one too. I applied to most of my school early action so I could find out faster!

Regular Decision- The normal application deadline. Non-binding, and you usually find out later than the other 2 decisions.

Email me if you have any question I didn't include and I'll be sure to answer and then add it to the list for everyone else!

Written by Shannon of Prep Avenue

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