For seniors in high school, May is a very busy month, filled with many decisions. Teens have the deadline of May 1st to decide where they want to spend the next four years of their life. I watched my friends and peers struggle to decide which school they want to attend. Society puts so much pressure on us to attend a “good” college in order to go to a “good” graduate school and get a “good” job. But, what does “good” even mean? It does not necessarily mean Ivy League, and certainly does not mean that students have to attend colleges that everyone has heard of, just so they are not embarrassed on May 1st when everyone asks them, “What’s that college on your shirt? I’ve never heard of that.”
Do I think we should get rid of college apparel day? Not at all. I proudly wore my Barnard sweatshirt to school on May 1st and enjoyed scrolling through social media posts to see where all of my peers are heading next year. Nevertheless, I do feel that society needs to change. We need to accept that every student will go to a college that is right for them, whether that is a small liberal arts school that no one has heard of or a large public university that is all over the news. High schools need to encourage their students to not apply to the “best” schools in the country, but to apply to the “best” schools for them. Teachers and parents need to guide students to support their peers’ decisions, not degrade them. Guidance counselors need to help their students think about how college sets up future endeavors, not just the next four years of our lives.
However, how does one decide what school is the “best” for them? Is it the location? Or is it the majors offered? Maybe it is the tuition costs and the dream to not have to take out loans? Or is it the clubs and sports available? Perhaps it is the strength of the Jewish community on campus? There are so many different aspects to consider when choosing the right college for you. I recommend making a list of pros and cons for every school you visit. I urge you to pick a college where you not only see yourself fitting in when you visit the campus, but a college that will set you up for your future. Your choice should consider your quality of life after you graduate, including how much debt you will have. Once you’ve made this big college decision, it is time to support each other, get ready for life out in the real world, and enjoy our last couple of months in high school together.
Liora Reiken is a senior at White Plains High School. She is a Staff Writer for Fresh Ink for Teens.
Fresh Ink for Teens is an online magazine written by, and for, Jewish students from high schools around the world.