How to Try on a College and Make Sure It Fits

Babson College

Choosing a college is a big deal. It can feel like a blind date – except when you’ve moved halfway across the country you can’t just disappear during a trip to the bathroom if it’s not a good match.

Committing to something sight unseen can feel daunting, just like you wouldn’t want to buy a prom dress or suit without trying it on. It will be a worthwhile investment of your time to make sure that a college is the right culture fit.

Summer Immersion Programs, like Babson Summer Study for High School Students, make it possible for you to get a taste of what college life is like at a certain school, and even decide if a field of study is right for you. If you attend a program and it turns out that you don’t like either the institution or the major you imagined pursuing since you were ten, you just saved yourself time, frustration, and money.

Instead, why not sample college and an insider perspective and leave with new experiences and connections under your belt?

EXPLORE NEW ACADEMIC FRONTIERS

Academics are not micromanaged in college. There are no 7 AM wake up times (unless you’re just an early bird.) Professors might ask you to call them by their first name, and you get to choose your classes. The diversity of the curriculum is truly one of the highlights of the college experience that can be explored in a summer program.

Nicholas Di, Summer Study ’17, expressed that this was one of his favorite parts of his immersion experience: “Summer Study offers a bunch of perspectives. For example, today we learned about business law and the other day we had a class on sustainability…it was really interesting to have such a high number of diverse classes within a four-week program.”

Summer Immersion Programs offer an opportunity for students to try on certain career paths, especially if that field of study isn’t offered in high school. For Rachel Stoia ‘17, it was an opportunity to see if business, and specifically entrepreneurship, could be a good fit for her future.

“I’ve been exposed to what it means to be an entrepreneur,” shares Rachel. “Now, I’m always thinking about different opportunities— different problems that could be solved through entrepreneurship and could potentially become businesses.”

Whichever subject you choose to pursue, working through a college course by completing assignments, working on team dynamics, and completing final projects without reminders from mom and dad will help you be more successful in the future, even if it’s only to determine that maybe accounting isn’t right for you.

EXPERIENCE A DAY IN THE LIFE

The siren call of social life in college is a big draw for many teenagers eager to move out of the house. When it comes to college culture, no two institutions are quite the same. Are you looking for a small campus where you can always find a friendly face to nod at when you walk to class or do you yearn to navigate a large campus pulsing with city life? Summer Immersion Programs bring people from all over the world together on one campus for a short period of time and they can allow you to get a feel of the type of people that could potentially be your classmates. Every campus has a unique community which attracts certain types of people.

For many, summer programs are the first time they get to interact with a diverse and often international background. Charlie McLaughlin, Summer Study ’17, told us about how he found sharing global perspectives particularly rewarding, especially when learning about business.

“Everyone here comes from different parts of the world, different walks of life,” says Charlie, “and we were able to come together and think of ideas that I could never think of solely on my own. Meeting so many people with completely different mindsets, and bringing the ideas together is great.”

INVEST IN YOURSELF

Summer Immersion Programs often have a transformative effect on students. Navigating your own educational and social experience often leads to introspection, as Theo Meta Hilb, Summer Study ’17, explains. “I always knew that I wanted to do something that helps others, but also create a profitable business venture,” says Theo. “Babson provided me with the knowledge of social entrepreneurship and also gave me a global perspective. One of my favorite parts was meeting people from around the world and working together to improve each other’s ideas.”

Going back to the chaos that is high school senior year after getting used to living life as a college student can feel weird. One second you become used to living on your own, taking classes you’re actually interested in, having fascinating intellectual discussions in class. Then the next week you’re asking for permission to go to the bathroom, falling asleep in art history, and listening to friends talk about inside jokes you missed while away for the summer. However, at the same time you’re filled with a certainty about the future. While your friends are saying how they have no idea what they want to pursue or what college they even want apply to, you know all the answers to these questions.

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF FINANCIAL AID

Don’t let cost deter you from applying to your dream Summer Immersion Program. Many college programs for high school students are committed to creating access for all qualified applicants by offering need-based financial aid and scholarships. Last year 30% of all of Babson College’s Summer Study participants received full or partial financial aid, including full-tuition scholarships with travel expenses. There are even application fee waivers, so don’t be shy about asking questions if a website is unclear when outlining financial aid opportunities.

Educating yourself on how to pursue financial aid opportunities can give you a leg up. Going through this process before your senior year will ensure that you don’t freak out when colleges ask you for things like W-2’s and tax returns. While your friends are scrambling to figure these things out you’ll be calm, collected, and done.

TRY BEFORE YOU BUY

Summer Immersion Programs provide students with the opportunity to experience the college life and dip their feet in a field of study without committing to 4+ years at a specific institution. You’ll go through the actual college application process knowing what you want instead of having to guess about if you want a big state school or a private institution, west coast or east coast, among many other factors. You’ll be surprised by the effect that four weeks living away from home, doing your own laundry, and “adulting’ in general will have on you.

Choosing a college is a big deal, so make your choice with confidence. Attending a Summer Immersion Program is an investment in yourself, your education and your greater social networks. Not to mention it’s a whole lot more impressive on a college application than burning through two seasons of Stranger Things.

To learn more about Babson College’s Summer Study for High School Students and discover what it means to live like a college student and learn like an entrepreneur visit www.babson.edu/summerstudy. Applications are open until March 15, 2018. Follow Babson College on Twitter @babson.

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