Viewpoints: Advice for the graduating class of 2019

  • Delaney Beaudoin Courtesy photo—

Monday, February 18, 2019 11:30AM

Dear High School Seniors, I distinctly remember how you feel. Your whole life lies ahead of you.

The only thing standing in your way: college applications. Granted it was only a year ago that I saw myself staring hopelessly at my computer screen. After hours and hours of comparing “campus security” and “party life” statistics on Niche, I felt as though I would never make a decision and if I did, it would certainly be the wrong one.

Well first off, I have good news for you, there is no such thing as the wrong decision.

After experiencing one whole semester of college and going through the application process once before, I am of course the most qualified person to advise you on your journey to secondary education (kidding). In all seriousness, I have written the following advice with the intention of hopefully easing the stress of your decision. It covers a few areas of my college experience that I personally regret, in an attempt to help you avoid the mistakes that I made.

First off, location. This one is a bit of a cliche, I’m not here to tell you how important the location of your college is, but I’m doing it anyway. The location of your college is very important! One simple Google search of the school and discovering it’s in a random town in upstate New York will not suffice. You need to do deep research into the location, surrounding restaurants, shops, parks, train stations — the whole shebang. This is going to be your semi-permanent home for the years preceding your adult life. Picture your ideal college Saturday, where you’d want to go, how you’d get there. Keep in mind job opportunities and inquire if the area surrounding your school has options for off-campus work.

These are all factors I wish I’d looked into deeper. Location is the one aspect of my school that I silently resent. Having to get in my car and drive fifteen minutes just to get to Target doesn’t sound like much on paper, but physically doing it is a whole other story (especially when you’re a lazy college student).

On the topic of cars, also be sure to read up on your selected schools policy on student driving. Some campuses do not allow first year students to bring a car with them, which can impact many factors in your daily life and the commute home.

The next very important aspect when it comes to quality of campus life, food. Food is not something I would overlook. It’s easy to disregard a crappy meal plan in exchange for a good education, however the effect of your diet can impact your grades. Schools are aware of this and oftentimes meal plans can be tricky.

Colleges are notorious for jacking up the price, with little payoff to show for it. Unfortunately, this is just the reality of the situation and often there’s not much you can do. What you can control is the quality of food. Research where your school gets their ingredients from, also if you are vegetarian, vegan, or have any other dietary restrictions, be sure to check if your selected schools have choices consistent with your diet. When you spend your days caught up in work, activities, and being social, you won’t want to cook for yourself. I would highly recommend signing up for a meal plan that will satisfy your need for food anytime from breakfast to late night coffee runs.

The final aspect of college advice I hold for you does not focus on the logistics of deciding or applying, but rather on the personal side of this momentous event. These next few months you have at home will be the last of your childhood. The last times your mom cooks dinner for you every night, the last sleepovers with childhood friends, the last cuddles with your pet at night. Though the prospect of college is new and exciting, be sure to enjoy these lasts.

College will bring many changes to your life and to you as well. Take the time to appreciate the end of this phase of your life, and get excited for the next one to begin. I know it seems as if your move-in day will never arrive, but I promise you it will — a whole lot faster than you ever expected.

Delaney Beaudoin is a freshman at Wheaton College.