What should I do?! Discouraged and hopeless...

<p>At this point, I have just about given up. I have no idea what I want to do, which is making it very tough to find the right school for me. There are a lot of good schools out there that I have looked at and that I stand a chance of getting in to, but I have no clue which would be the right one for me. It is such a monumental waste of money to go to a school becuase of where it is located and has a decent rating, when I have decent rated schools in my state that would cost a small fraction of what out of state and private schools would cost.<br>
I have been so frustrated looking at schools without having any idea what is best for me, especially when I do not know what I want to do, therefore don't know what to look for in the schools</p>

<p>My questions are:
I have already applied to ASU and U of A (in state). Do you suggest, even though I do not have any specific reasons to do so, that I apply to a couple of the out of state and privates that I've been looking at? I'll admit that my only real reason for doing so is for the new experiences, new people, location etc. Or do you suggest that I stick with in state for a year, or until I figure out what it is that I need and that I want to do, then apply elsewhere?</p>

<p>Also, is it very difficult to transfer schools? Is it significantly more competitive to get in as a transfer than as a Freshman applicant? What is it that the schools mostly look at in trasfers (HS stats and ECs, or stats and ECs from recent year(s) in college)??? If ANYONE has ANY information or opinions, please help me out. Thank you!</p>

Don't worry - you are not alone. Lots of people feel exactly like you do at this point in the college admissions process. It's perfectly normal.</p>

<p>Since you've already applied to ASU and the University of Arizona - both good schools - you have some leeway to think about other options. Although it was many years ago, I also applied to a state school and several out of state private schools. I ended up at the state school for my first two years before transferring to a private university (which was instate). For me, it wasn't a bad way to go --- by then, I had a good idea of what I wanted to major in and the contrast between the public school and the private school was exciting and interesting. I've read that as many as 40% of students do actually transfer, so rest assured you will not be alone if you decide to do so.</p>

<p>However, a word of caution. If you arrive at ANY school with the idea that you're going to transfer, you probably won't be happy. You'll always have it in the back of your mind that you're leaving, that it's only temporary. As a result, you won't look to establish relationships, you won't look to take full advantage of opportunities, you'll focus on the bad rather than the good. I would recommend you NOT go to any school with the idea that you will be transferring after two years --- you need to go to a school with the idea that you will probably stay there for all four years. If you then decide to transfer, that's fine, no problem. But if you arrive on the first day with the idea in your mind that you won't be there long chances are you will never feel at home or give the school a chance.</p>

<p>So, my advice would be to send in a few applications to some other schools and come spring decide if you really would like U of A, ASU or some place else. I know Arizona doesn't have many options so pick a few out of state schools. If money is an issue, look for schools that either have good merit scholarships or are generous with financial aid. Then, just sit back and see what happens. You really don't know what you will be offered --- so just take a chance. </p>

<p>What other schools are you thinking of applying to?</p>

<p>Thanks carolyn. You are always such a huge help. Money is not a deciding factor, really. My parents would be more than willing to spend the money if it were something that I was passionate about. My brother was given an opportunity that couldn't be passed up, so he went to school for $40,000/year without really knowing what he wanted to do. I feel like I need a reason to ask my parents to spend such a huge amount of money, especially if it is at a school that is not hugely different in quality from in state schools. About a month ago, or less, going in state seemed like it was a very slim option for me. I was very driven to go out of state. Something recently just clicked with me and I began questioning why I was so set on going out of state and I realized that I had no idea what I wanted to major in and I feel like it would just be pointless and difficult to match a good school for myself.</p>

<p>To answer your question I was looking at quite a few schools, including Colorado Collge, Reed college, University of Richmond, UC Boulder, several of the WICHE classifed schools (able to pay in state tuition for these, but most are not that great of options), as well as sevral others. I guess I was hoping that with a year or two in state, if I found that I really wanted to do something different or discovered certain programs or majors that I really wanted, it would be worth it to look at schools which offered what I needed and transfer. I do have an open mind and realize that there is a good chance that I might be very happy in state and wouldn't have a reason to transfer, but the ideal for me would be to go in state for a year or two, enjoy it and discover what I really wanted, then move on and experience schools elsewhere. What do you think? Any ideas? How difficult/competitive is it to transfer? Any advice would be great. Thanks for the reassuring words.</p>

<p>I think that you might be a little too focused on what you want to do. If you go to a good liberal arts school you will figure it out eventually, and transferring might not be as wholistic an experience as starting out there. No one needs to really know, that is why American liberal arts type schools are so great. You can major in history and end up at Med, Law, Business, or a number of grad schools like film irrespective of major (med you just need a few pre-req classes). I agree that perhaps a place like boulder, while great, might not be worth the difference in tuition. The LACs are different enough that they might be very worth it.</p>

<p>At this point in your life you don't have to be passionate about a single subject or adult job, but you should be passionate about investigating some subjects so you can start figuring things out. That is just as good an objective as a narrow vocational goal, if not a better one.</p>

<p>There is no single school that is good for everyone, and probably dozens of schools that would be good for you. And there is nothing the matter with U of A or A-State. In fact, if you think you may have a business career ahead, A-State is a very good choice. Both schools have solid programs in a variety of areas. </p>

<p>However, I do favor a small liberal arts school when a student is not set on a particular major. At a small liberal arts school, I think that smaller classes and better access to professors give students a more useful look at the subjects they sample. Advising programs are often stronger at LACs too, and that is very helpful. </p>

<p>So put a list together than includes your State universities, plus some LACs that look good to you. If you have some general interests (math rather than english, history and poli sci rather than biology, etc) let the board know and you will get some good suggestions.</p>

<p>I too think that a smaller school helps students clarify what they want to do as you get mentoring and lots of personalized attention. It is too easy to get lost in a large school and it is VERY difficult to graduate in 4 years from our state schools in Arizona due to registration issues and budget cuts unless you get priority registration from an honors program. They are good schools but I did the 2 years at a state school and transferred to a top 20 school after that. I would not recommend it as you miss out on a lot. You don't get that sense of attachment and bonding to 1 school.It worked out financially for me as I ended up getting all A's in the state school and then getting a full ride for my last 2 years at the private school but in other areas it was not the best way to go.</p>

<p>I totally agree, the feeling of starting out first year at a LAC type place where the students all get to know each other is an awesome feeling.</p>

<p>Thanks everyone for the advice. Anyone know how difficult it is to transfer and what the emphasis is placed on in admissions (HS or current)? Thanks.</p>

<p>RKATC I think your confusion and frustration is common among HS students, but it doesn't have to be a miserable experience. I think what happens is that students are striking out in all directions at once without an organized plan; so they're picking colleges, signing up for tests, working on essays, etc. all without an overall plan of how to make the transition from HS to college.</p>

<p>A plan lets you break a big change down into smaller steps, each of which you can handle. Plus you get a feeling of accomplishment as you see items get completed, rather than a sense of wallowing in a ton of decisions and activities without making much progress.</p>

<p>You write "I have been so frustrated looking at schools without having any idea what is best for me, especially when I do not know what I want to do, therefore don't know what to look for in the schools". I think you are laboring under a misconception here. Unless you are already planning on a specific career such as engineering or nursing or some other vocationally-related major, you don't pick a school for its strength in a career area. You pick it based on a good fit for you and the ability to challenge and teach you. Its silly to split hairs worrying over whether the school is rated number 15 or number 30 for a major when most students end up switching majors in college anyway. Plus ratings are not scientific measurements, but thats a whole 'nuther thread.</p>

<p>Books have been written about the admission process and how to pick a college and you still have time to read thru one or two if you act quickly. Any of the books by Loren Pope are a good starting place. To briefly summarize, get an idea about the different types of colleges out there (rural, urban, LAC, large U, etc), visit examples if possible and see what type feels right for you, concentrate on finding schools that are a match for you and safeties you'd be happy at, throw a few reaches in for spice (and consider ED at one of them). You want to consider factors like class size, prof/student interaction, how advising is delivered, the type of students a college tends to attract, and so on. All this is covered in books about admissions.</p>

<p>Second, college IS important but many kids act as if getting into the "right" college is the single turning point of their life. It's not. Getting into a top college won't guarantee success, nor will attending a less prestigious college inevitably lead to failure or poor job prospects. What you do IN college is going to be more important than the name on the diploma. If you are active and involved, and especially if you get internships, you will have good career prospects coming out and you'll have an idea of where you want to start. Imagining that if you can only get into a top school that door will be open for you the rest of your life is unrealistic. There are many decisions and turning points ahead in your life, the choice of college is but one of many. </p>

<p>So it doesn't matter if you don't know your major or career field yet in order to pick a good college. Few people do at 17, and frankly I'd be worried about someone who claims they know when most kids have so little real-world exposure to what most careers entail.</p>

<p>Several gazillion years ago I only applied to University of Michigan because it made no economic sense to apply elsewhere and I didn't have a burning desire to attend an ivy. Now my son is looking at colleges and we have visited many small LACs of the "colleges that change lives" ilk. Very small schools (most <2000 students), no grad assistants so all classes are small and taught by professors. I want to go back to college and do it over! </p>

<p>I am not necessarily suggesting that you should go to a very small LAC. Some kids feel stifled in a tiny school. But your economic case for staying in state only makes sense to me if you are comparing AU or UA to Wisconsin, Michigan, Cal, etc. Sure those schools are different, but perhaps not different enough to warrant paying out of state tuition. On the other hand, a small college will give you a totally different experience from a school like AU.</p>

<p>to flesh out a bit my claim that "strength of major at a college is unimportant" so it doesn't sound like an ex-cathedra pronouncement, let me illustrate by picking 4 areas all unrelated to major yet having a big impact on your college experience. These are residential living, class type, advising, faculty focus. I'm not going to say one way is better than the other, just that each student needs to decide which is the right fit.</p>

<p>Out here in CA most of the state schools are commuter campuses; students live at-home or in dispersed the nearby community and drive in to campus. This makes it inconvenient to pop onto campus for a brief visit, such as for an office hour, to get a book from the library, to see some lecture or show, etc. And getting together with friends or in a study group also is less convenient, new people you meet aren't going to be just down the block or in the next dorm. At a residential college students live on-campus or just off the border so the campus and friends are nearby; these colleges tend to have more of the "college" feel, although if you join groups you can make a good group of friends even at the largest college.</p>

<p>At some colleges classes can be larger and lecture-style, especially the 1st 2 years. At LACs and some privates most are small (25 students or less) from the very start. In this latter format the profs will get to know you, and they grade your papers. At larger colleges the burden is on you to get to know the profs by visiting office hours, and papers are often graded by grad students instead of the prof. Some colleges try to select an interesting and diverse class, and you have the opporunity to get to know some of them in class and continue discussions afterwards. At a larger college there are no doubt lots of interesting people but you're going to have to meet them outside of class somehow since the only person speaking is the prof up front.</p>

<p>At larger (esp. public) colleges the advising system is almost nonexistent. Each department will have an advisor, but in more popular majors you may be sharing this person with 500 or more other students. More general advisors are also available on a drop-in basis, but nobody is scheduled to meet with you. At LACs and some privates each student is assigned a faculty advisor from the start. This person advises a small number of students, and you are required to meet with this person at least once per semester and more frequent contact is often encouraged. Again, some people are independent and like making their own decisions, some would prefer a bit more guidance thru the college maze.</p>

<p>At most U's and colleges the old adage "publish or perish" still holds. Profs are given tenure and measured based on their research. Research also involves grad students so advising them occupies a good deal of time, as well as searching for grants to fund the grad students and research. Lip service is given to teaching undergrads, but good researcher does not always equal good teacher. The flip side is these profs are the ones advancing the field, so you are literally in touch with those on the cutting edge of knowledge. At a LAC the focus by intention is on the undergrads, and a prof who has little interest in the undergrads probably wouldn't be very comfortable or last very long. </p>

<p>There are many other differences between colleges, but I hope the above has given you a sense of how the college experience can be totally different from one instititution to the next, irregardless of major. Pick a college that is a good fit for you, worry about your major later!</p>

<p>RKATC - I see that no one has specifically answered your questions about transferring yet. Overall, I'd say it is not difficult to transfer in general. Most schools lose a fair number of students after freshman and sophomore year; they want to replace those students so they have openings for transfer students. The exception, however, are highly selective schools like the Ivy's - they generally take very few transfer students.
In geeneral, the emphasis in transfer admissions is going to be on your college record. They will look at your high school record and test scores but what you've done in college is going to be much more important than your high school record. One thing to keep in mind: most schools will want you to have a certain number of college credits before you transfer - usually at least two semesters, some will want two years to be completed. CC now has a transfer section - you might want to read through some of the questions there to get some more information --- good look.</p>

<p>Thank you! This is probably a stupid question, but do most people in college do extra cirriculars, or emphasize them such as in HS? What are some examples? Are they as important, or do grades hold the majority of the pull?</p>

<p>When I transferred from my state school I had done a fair number of activities which I think helped me especially as some of them related to my major. It helped a lot will getting money as a tranfer student</p>

<p>Arizonamom is right. I also did a fair amount of extracurriculars in my first two years of college. They also happened to be related to my eventual major which definitely helped when I went to transfer. I would say at the very least you should become involved with any clubs or honor societies related to your potential major. You will also need to get some recommendations from professors. That can be difficult to do at large state universities where introductory classes are often very large so make sure to make some one-on-one contacts with teachers during office hours if you can.
Finally, I would suggest you do a bit of research on the types of general ed or distribution requirements at schools you MIGHT want to transfer to - concentrate on taking those classes that will satisfy those requirements during your time before you transfer rather than electives that won't. A few intro. classes in your major are OK but save the bulk of your major classes for after you transfer, try to get the basics out of the way instead. That will help make you a more attractive candidate. And, grades will be the most important tipping point.</p>

<p>lets not put the cart before the horse!! The OP isn't even in college yet and people are already giving xfer advice! I'm with Carolyn's first post; if you arrive at a college already determined to leave, you won't get the most out of it. And its barely November, plenty of time to find and apply to schools that ARE a fit!</p>

<p>I agree Mike. But the poster asked for advice about what to plan for in case he did need to transfer. I agree that he shouldn't go in with the idea of transferring but if he does, it won't hurt to plan ahead either. However, it would be best to arrive planning to STAY!!!</p>