As a kid, going school supply shopping was always something I looked forward to. Picking out a new backpack and lunchbox made me a happy girl. The night before school started, I was a ball of nervous, excited energy. The start of a new school year meant new adventures and one year closer to being “all grown up.”
Even though I’m now all grown up, I still get excited about the start of a new school year; only now, my excitement comes from seeing brand new students walk through the doors of Waubonsee, starting their college journey. It comes from catching up with returning students, finding out how their summers went and how their new semester is going.
Paradoxically, I also have excitement for students who haven’t even begun college yet. You see, I am the Admissions Manager for Waubonsee. That means that I, along with the department’s four Admissions Advisors, have the privilege of working with students from each of the high schools and vocational centers in our district.
These students are looking at colleges and preparing for the next chapter of their educational story, and we often get to be a part of that exploration process. In meeting with these students, we hear about their successes and struggles, aspirations and accomplishments. Not surprisingly, we also see twinges of anxiety, confusion or fear. We hope to ease those emotions by educating students on how to choose a college that best fits their goals and needs.
Becoming familiar with the different types of colleges, such as community colleges, technical or vocational schools, and public and private four-year colleges is the first step to the right fit. Knowing if a school offers the major you are interested in is extremely important. How long does it usually take students to finish their program? How much does it cost to attend, and are there scholarships or financial aid available?
While this is good information to have, the best way to determine if a school is the right fit is to visit campus. Get a tour (from a student ambassador, if possible). See everything from the size and setup of a typical classroom, the student life office, admissions and support services, to the dorms, dining halls, and athletic facilities. Ask your tour guide why they chose the college, what they like most and least, the best places to meet people, and what there is to do on campus outside of class.
For high school juniors and seniors especially, college is just around the corner, so it’s a great time to start looking at your options. I encourage you to come to Waubonsee’s annual College Night event on Monday, October 6 from 6-8 p.m. at our Sugar Grove campus. Here, you can meet with representatives from more than 100 public and private colleges and universities from across the country, while also attending presentations about financial aid, choosing a major and why Waubonsee may be the right fit for you.
Happy new school year, and happy college hunting!
Joy Sanders is the Admissions Manager at Waubonsee Community College.