This story was originally published on Sept.14, 2018.
If you’re in the process of choosing where you will attend college in the fall, it might feel overwhelming, especially with news of the biggest college admissions scandal breaking this week. While the scandal is an extreme example of how competitive and high-stakes the admissions process can be, we asked current college students for honest advice on how to make the most of your decision and your college experience.
Apply to reach schools
Claire, a sophomore at NYU, recommends not limiting yourself when it comes to choosing a college.
“My best advice is to apply to the reach schools that you really love but don’t think you could get in, because you might be exactly who they’re looking for,” she says.
Be selective in your choices
While it’s a good idea to look for schools that are reaches, safeties, and a few in between, applying to too many can lead to a stressful admissions process, says Yasmeen, a sophomore at NYU.
“I wanted to apply everywhere and I applied to way too many schools,” she says. “I didn’t really know where I wanted to go and I didn’t know what I wanted to major in, so that was very anxiety inducing.”
Yasmeen recommends narrowing down your choices and being realistic. “You’re only going to go to one school,” she says.
Take high school seriously
While it may be tempting to slack off senior year, those last few months do matter, says Karishma, a sophomore at Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. “It’s definitely a competitive world,” she says. “Take high school seriously because your grades do matter and the work does show.”
And remember, even when you get accepted to college, you’ll need to provide your high school transcripts, so making sure you keep up your grades up until you graduate will ensure your success—and your spot in college.
Do your research
While you may have a dream school in mind, doing your research to make sure it’s actually a good fit is important, says Shehzil, a sophomore at NYU.
“Make sure you have a good feel for the school of what the college is like, because a lot of people start school and it’s not what they expected,” she says.
Visit the college website, plan a visit, or talk to students who currently attend to get a sense of what your life will be like once you get to campus.
“Figure out what works best for you,” she says.