To all you potential Scots

The school year is flying by, and soon we’ll be welcoming a new class of Scots to Alma. High school seniors are anxiously awaiting acceptance letters, going on campus tours, and sending in that ever-important first payment. It’s a very exciting time.

It also may be a stressful time for high school students and their parents, but I’m here to tell you not to worry. I was no exception to all this stress. After applying to 12 (yes, 12!) schools in Michigan, I spent many days driving around the state, taking campus tours and attending other events for incoming students.

On my Alma campus visit!

At some schools, I didn’t feel very welcome or like I belonged—crossed those off my list! At other schools, I did not like the way the housing was set up—crossed them off my list! It was small things that helped me make my decision. It wasn’t like any school was terrible. You just have to take the time to find where you will be most comfortable. For me, that was here at Alma.

Significant Others
Significant others often are a deciding factor for many people. Do you go to the same college as your boyfriend or girlfriend? This was an issue that touched me in a big way. My boyfriend and I have been together since nearly the beginning of high school. We both applied to a lot of the same schools and even went on many campus tours together. As the decision came closer, we both had it narrowed down to Grand Valley, Michigan State and Alma.

We did not know what we wanted, and for a while, we did not even talk about our decisions. We both decided that we needed to choose the school that fit us best, and if we ended up together, so be it. If we didn’t, then we would make it work. I personally know too many situations where someone followed their significant other to college and ended up breaking up. In the end, I chose Alma, and he chose Grand Valley.

It has almost been a whole school year, and we are still happily together. We see each other far less frequently than we used to, but when we do see each other, it means so much more. Make sure your college decision is your decision.

Scholarships
While I was busy touring schools, I also was busy with one other very important thing: searching for scholarships. How do you make college affordable? Financial aid can help offset the cost of college, making it another deciding factor.

Filing your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by the March 1 deadline is an important part of this process. Some schools even offer a bonus for filling it out on time!

Most schools have scholarship information on their website. See what you can find there. Some schools award scholarships for having a certain GPA or ACT score. Others have scholarships for family of alumni, performing arts or sports. The secret? You have to dig for them.

I received two scholarships from Alma that were directly matched to me. I got creative by entering contests and applying to additional scholarships online. I also had help from my high school counselor, who searched for matches for me every single day.

As you can tell, during my college searches, I was full of questions. I wanted to make an informed decision and choose the school that was best for me (and I did!)

I would like to extend to you that same opportunity. I am happy to answer questions about choosing a college, residence life, campus opportunities… anything!  Post a comment below, and I will be sure to reply. If you have a more personal question, feel free to leave me your e-mail address.