Congrats! After what seems like an eternity of studying, writing, reading, SATs, ACTs, projects, finals, essays, applications and stress, your hard work has come to fruition and you've been accepted into college.
There's just one big decision left: Which college will you attend?
Here are a few considerations when picking a college, and what some Turlock High School students said about their reasons for selecting or rejecting admissions offers.
With junior colleges charging roughly $1,000, CSUs charging $7,000, UCs charging $32,000 for in-state residents, and Ivy leagues charging roughly $40,000 per year, all in fees or for tuition, the price tag is a huge factor. Many students are paying for college out of their own pocketbooks, too.
However, living at home while attending college rather than moving away could potentially save students morethan $10,000 a year in room and board expenses.
DOES THE SCHOOL HAVE YOUR MAJOR?
If you know what you want to do with your life, you want to make sure your school has the appropriate major. School should help you prepare for your dream job. But if you want to be a writer and you head off to MIT, you may not have much luck finding classes relevant to your major.
Senior Martin Coleman, however, after touring a few colleges, decided that Cal Poly, a highly ranked engineering school, was his best bet for pursuing a career in computer engineering.
It's worth taking note of what extracurriculars the college offers. Clubs, sports teams and Greek societies, to name a few, are ways to get out of the dorm and meet people.
Outside activities help break up the monotony of studying and classes.
In addition to a university not having a political science major, senior Josephine Hazelton "did not accept an admission offer because the school didn't have a speech and debate club," one of her primary interests.
PROXIMITY TO HOME
Thanksgiving, winter break, holidays, homesickness, Mom's cooking, laundry day are all quality reasons to head home but it's trickier than it seems. Distance, in this situation, is measured better in hours than miles. Though it takes about the same amount of time to fly home from the East Coast as it does to drive between some points in California, the difference comes when your wallet weighs in.
A round-trip plane ticket from the East Coast will cost several times the price of gas for a car ride home and back if you stay in California. The farther you go, probably the less frequently you'll visit home. Can you handle that?
CLOSENESS TO FRIENDS AND FAMILY
You might be antsy to change it up, fly the coop and set off for a new town where nobody knows your name. But if homesickness sets in, you won't regret having some familiar faces in the area. Whether it's an aunt and an uncle who offer you a home-cooked meal and a hug, or a friend to visit and catch up with, it couldn't hurt to know a few people in the area.
WHERE YOU WANT TO LIVE
You're going to be living in this area for the next four years. Though it's not a permanent move, you want to enjoy the area. If you really hate the cold, you probably don't want to move to Maine or Minnesota.
One perk of staying in state is that many colleges are located near the beach.
Senior Ethan Leung committed to California State University, Monterey, in part because of its location just off Monterey Bay.
COMMUNITY AROUND THE COLLEGE
Look around the college. That community is the place where you will be spending most of your time. Coffee shops, art galleries and shops all contribute to a great "college town feel." Some of the highest rated college towns in the country are Chapel Hill, N.C.; Princeton, N.J.; and Ann Arbor, Mich.
Are you looking for a change? Moving from the agrarian Central Valley to the hustle and bustle of a large city such as Chicago, New York, or San Francisco could be a huge culture shock. Granted, a culture shock could be what you want: something new and different.
CSU VERSUS UC
Many students in Stanislaus County debate between attending a California State University and a University of California. The teaching styles at these two public systems differ. According to California-colleges.com, "The University of California system tends to focus on theoretical, philosophical and research-based learning, while the California State University system's educational picture combines the theoretical with practical applications."
The UCs also have many graduate programs, whereas CSUs focus mainly on undergraduate degrees. And CSUs are significantly less expensive.
QUARTER VERSUS SEMESTER SYSTEM
Though not a major deciding factor, it is something to consider. The quarter system runs at a much faster pace than the semester system, which can be detrimental to procrastinators. On the flip side, that really tough class will be done with in no time.
Schools on the semester system start in mid-August and end in May, with a large December break in between the two semesters. The quarter system offers classes from mid-September to mid-June, with breaks in both December and March.
SIZE OF THE CAMPUS
College campuses vary tremendously in size, which greatly affects the overall feel and character of the campus. The California Institute of Technology has only 2,000 undergraduate students enrolled, which is slightly smaller than the size of Turlock High School. In contrast, UCLA, less than an hour away, has about 30,000 undergraduates enrolled.
Senior Jacquelyne Reece explains, "I'm the type of person who enjoys knowing people on a more personal level, so I prefer the smaller campus feel."
IF THE UNIVERSITY 'CLICKS'
One of the most arbitrary considerations in choosing a college is if it feels right. Could you see yourself living and learning there? Is it a good fit for you?
Trust your gut with this one.
Natalia Lima is a senior at Turlock High School and a member of The Bee's Teens in the Newsroom Program.