On The Trinity Perspective, you will find those answers—or at least someone who asked the same questions. We have been in your shoes. The Trinity Perspective collects advice and stories from current students, parents, faculty, and alumni to share with you—prospective students, families, and the Trinity community.

Where Should You Start Your College Search?

By Paige Roth (’15)
Paige Roth
Paige Roth ('15)
Biologist & Playwright

Drafting your first college list is like the first week of your first high school relationship—everything seems great and you have no idea what to do. Brochures show majestic brick buildings with perpetual summer, class on the grass, and students delighted with the prospect of new knowledge and friends. They claim school spirit, small class sizes, competitive internships, prestigious faculty, and so on. After so many positive adjectives, the profiles in your Fiske guide start to sound the same. Perhaps you begin to wonder, how could I go wrong? How do I choose? And, even if you’ve been certainly wearing your father’s college sweatshirt since birth—what do I really want?

As a rising senior who began her college search by throwing darts at a US map, I can empathize. With the help of some friends, I have compiled a list of questions to ask yourself and steps to take when entering the abyss of your first college list. And, no, this is not just another self-help college list from the College Board that your parents casually left for you at the breakfast table.

Collaboration between faculty, staff, and students

1. Do you need attention?
Be honest with yourself. You may not understand all the hype about “small class" sizes now, but if you have a tendency to feel undervalued or invisible, a class where your professor doesn’t know your name probably isn’t for you. Pay attention to those average class size numbers and student to faculty ratios with this in mind.

2. Do you know exactly what you want to major in or are you still unsure?
If you have a strong guiding light and feel comfortable chasing that goal in a large university setting, this will help you navigate a larger school. However, if you have lingering doubts or disparate interests, consider a liberal arts setting that will encourage and foster your exploration.

3. Do you want a vibrant city or small town charm?
Rather than the US map dart method I employed, narrow your geographic search down based on what city life you are looking for. 

4. What do you like to do on the weekends? 
Are you looking for a university where you can hop on your mountain bike and explore nature? Or, are you looking for nightlife and theatre productions? What can’t you live without?
Look for schools that are going to expand not only your academic interests but also your engagement with your surroundings.

5. When you picture your summers off, are you researching? Working as an intern? Traveling abroad? (All of the above?)
Many universities have programs in place to connect students with these opportunities beginning their freshman year. Look to see if those opportunities are tailored to undergraduates or graduate students. Be sure to check out what research students are doing or what career and study abroad services universities provide.

6. My final piece of advice is to visit two schools
Pick two schools that are as different as you can find. For example, I picked a liberal arts school with a student population under 2000 and a large graduate institution with over 50,000 students. This will give you a sense of what drives you crazy and what you absolutely need.

About Paige Roth
Paige Roth is a senior biology & English double major at Trinity and acts as editor of The Trinity Perspective. Throughout high school and the beginning of her time at Trinity, she identified herself as a strong humanities student. However, after a serendipitous meeting with her introductory biology professor, Dr. Jim Shinkle, she took her first tentative steps into the world of research where she’s studied cucumber sunburns ever since. Merging her loves of science and humanities in a true liberal arts fashion, Paige is now the author of Trinity’s Undergraduate Research blog. Paige enjoys all types of writing, from non-fiction to playwriting. In fact, she’s produced two plays off Broadway in New York and off Sunset in Hollywood. In her spare time Paige loves spin class, singing, running with the Dean of Students, and spending time with her residents as a resident mentor for first year student


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