Researching Colleges: A Soul-Searching Process

Ashley Alcantara, Co-Arts & Entertainment Editor

Ahhh, it’s that time of year when the birds are chirping and the sun is beaming brightly outside your window. You consider how you’re going to spend your upcoming summer vacation. You think how this summer, like previous ones, wilconsist of sleeping, eating, and going on your phone. But should you be spending your summer like this, juniors? Of course not! During this time, you should get a head start on the college process, specifically researching which colleges you’re thinking of applying to.  

When researching universities, some of the components juniors should consider are location, GPA and test score requirements, your intended course of study, and the sorts of clubs and internship opportunities that might be offered 

Image derived from Vector Stock.


If you want your college life to start in a new environment, you should look into colleges that are outside of your state. But if you would rather stay closer to family, then you might want to look at schools that are more local.  

Although you might be determined in where you want to attend, you might end up changing your mind later. That’s why senior Fizah Shahid claims that it’s a good idea to be flexible. 

Stay open-minded when looking for colleges because you never know what you may end up liking more than what is on your checklist,” Shahid said. 

GPA & Test Scores 

Depending on which college you put on your list, make sure that you’re aware of the school’s grade and test score requirements. If you want to be a competitive candidate, your grades and test scores should either fall within or exceed the range provided by those colleges. 

Part of your research should also incorporate the clubs and internships the college offers. When you work on your supplemental questions, it is crucial to express how you could use the clubs and internships they provide whether that be to advance your career goals or to accomplish personal goals 

I discovered that Hofstra offers a paid internship program for engineering undergraduates. Pieces of information like these can also help you to determine which college will best prepare you for your future career.  

Intended Majors 

Above anything else, don’t put a college on your list for the sole reason that it’s prestigious. During this process you must ask yourself: “Is this college suitable for me?” and “Can I picture myself here?If the answer is “no” to either of these questions, you should re-evaluate because your future depends on your decisions 

Where you chose to apply to must be representative of who you are and should specialize in your intended major(s). The school must genuinely excite you. For instance, I remember how I excited I was when I found out that NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering has a MakerSpace and MakerGarage 

When you’re passionate about what the school has to offer, it will be much easier to express your enthusiasm in your application.  

“Never tell them you’re passionate. SHOW them that you’re passionate. This comes from your tone and how you explain who you are through not-so-simple questions,” said Amber Connell, another senior. 

Clubs & Internships 

Knowing how to tackle supplemental questions are also another challenge.  

“Make sure you know what questions colleges are asking you, and be sure to reflect on how they can represent YOU, Connell said. 

In order to make these questions reflect who you are, here are some suggestions that you can follow. Supplements will usually consist of the questions: “Why us? and “Why are you interested in studying your intended major? With these questions, you want to combine your own experiences and interests along with the courses, clubs, competitions, and events that the university has. Be specific in your response!  

Keeping up with all of your college supplemental questions can be stressful, but something that I found useful was writing down what I had researched in a notebook. You can also search up how other students, who applied to the same college, answered their supplements. For me, referring to websites that had sample responses helped me get a better sense of how I should structure my own essays and incorporate a hook to grab my reader’s attention. 

From Application to Acceptance 

During this process, it is completely normal to feel overwhelmed and frustrated, but remember that you’re going through the same stressors as any other junior. 

“Make sure to take care of yourself first and remember that your peers are going through the same process, so you’re not alone, said senior Nabihah Ahsan.  

If you’re up to the point where your body doesn’t want to continue to do work, then step away from your computer for a moment. 

If you should ever go through a mental breakdown, lay down on the ground and BREATHE. It will help you clear your head and release all the negativity into the ground, said senior Leena Alzafarani.  

At the end of the day, just remember that the struggle that you’re putting up with now will be worth it when you receive those acceptance letters through the mail.