Finding the Right Fit

Trying to choose the place that will help prepare you for the rest of your life is a daunting and at times nerve-racking decision. Personally, as I went through high school and the “deadline” for deciding where I would go for college loomed nearer I started getting frantic. “Where should I go?”, “Will I like it there?”, “What about the teachers?”, “Will I do well there?”, “Will I be able to afford it?” All of these questions raced through my head like some newly invented form of torture. Somehow I had to narrow down my list of possible college choices. I was told that when you want to do that there are four main criteria to consider: location, price, major/program choices, and environment.

So I took a step back and tried to figure out what I wanted. Being the eldest of five children I knew I wanted to stay close to home and commute so I could help out around the house. That helped narrow down my choices from all across the country to just around Illinois. I also knew that I didn’t want a really long commute which narrowed the list down further. My decision to stay at home also helped alleviate some of the price worry. As a commuter I wouldn’t have to worry about staying at a dorm which would cut down the cost of my tuition no matter where I went.  Then I started looking at the prices of the colleges still on my list. At first I just looked at the prices straight up and compared them, but then I realized that I couldn’t just look at the numbers I had to look at what the school offered with those prices. Some schools had the same prices but differed in what they presented for that price. I looked at the different majors and programs the different schools offered. Being undecided presented some difficulty in this part. I didn’t know what I wanted to do so how could I choose a school based on the majors and programs they offered? What if I picked a school that didn’t have the majors or programs I decided I wanted to go for?  As these new questions started circling, a friend  reminded me that even if I found out the school I was attending didn’t have the major or program I wanted later, it wasn’t the end of the world. I could always transfer to a school that did have the major or program that I wanted. This helped settle some of my nerves, but even so I still wanted to make a good first choice. So I thought about the different majors and careers I was interested in or even might be interested in.  I looked at the majors and programs offered at the colleges on my list and whittled it down a little bit more.

All of these characteristics of a college were important to me and my decision but the one that really matters the most is the environment. When I use the word environment I don’t mean how many trees the campus has or if they have pretty flowers (although they are nice features), I mean the word environment as in the attitudes of the other students, the atmosphere of the campus. “Is it welcoming?”, “Are the other students nice?”, “Will I like it there?”, “What about the teachers?”, “Will I do well there?” While the location, price and major/programs are important factors they are not as important as the environment of the college. If you don’t like the campus or the people there then it makes it harder to do well. You need to feel comfortable.

You can’t find out if a college feels right and welcoming if you don’t go there and visit it yourself. A paper can only tell you so much. What can be an amazing place for some people doesn’t always work for others, that’s why there are so many colleges to choose from.

I chose Benedictine because: 1. It is close to home and the commute is reasonable. 2. There are many opportunities for financial aid such as scholarships and work-study programs making it a good choice money wise. If you take advantage of the opportunities offered the tuition for Benedictine, a four-year, private college, can equal that of some community colleges.  3. Benedictine offers many different programs and majors. While it is widely known for its science departments and programs that isn’t all it offers. Benedictine university offers four different colleges: College of Science,  College of Business,  College of Liberal Arts, and College of Education and Health services, 55 different undergraduate majors, 17 graduate programs and 4 doctoral programs. Because I am undecided having a lot of different options for paths I can take is a good thing.  4.  Benedictine has an amazing atmosphere. When I came to the campus for the first time I was immediately taken by the attitudes of the people I met. They loved what they did and they loved where they worked. To me that was important. Seeing the real joy and belief that they had when they talked about the opportunities and what Benedictine was about made me think that if they had such real love for the university and it wasnt just a job where they were paid then Benedictine must be a special place. The more I looked around the more that idea was cemented. When I attended Welcome weekend I felt comfortable but at the same time a little nervous. “Would I like the other students as much as the atmosphere I had already experienced?” I did. I met and talked to many of the students who were entering Benedictine just like me and also the older students who were helping to show us the ropes. I made many friends that carried over into the actual school year. Now after a few weeks in to the school year I am more than comfortable where I am. The teachers are amazing. They really care about what you think and are always asking if they can help clarify the class and are always willing to help you. The other students are considerate and kind and even if they don’t know you they are always willing to lend a hand. I know it sounds too good to be true but from what I’ve seen it is. Benedictine is an amazing place where I feel at home; where I feel I can challenge myself and explore my options. You aren’t alone here because there are so many people who are all so willing to help you. For me Benedictine is my right fit.

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