Keep An Open Mind, Find the Right Colleges

By Breanne Boyle

Keep an Open Mind about college

The first time I learned about Miami University of Ohio, it was from a postcard.

In November.

Of my senior year.

I had already applied to a few colleges, but figured I would attend the event advertised on the mailer. I sat through the presentation given by the Miami admissions rep and was hooked. This was where I wanted to go to college.

As a first generation student, I didn’t know the correct path for applying to colleges, but my parents were incredibly supportive and had been telling me since I was in kindergarten that I would definitely be attending college after high school. I mostly chose colleges to apply to based on the pretty posters in the Upland High School career center.

I loved my college. I still love it. I am the one driving around with a REDHWKS license plate, celebrating Miami’s Division I teams. How did I find my college? By keeping an open mind.

It’s okay to start your search to find a college with those pretty posters, but you need to dive deeper to know whether that college is a good fit. Once I applied to Miami, I did more research and determined it was the right fit for me. I would suggest you do it just a bit sooner!

Here are five things I recommend to students for researching colleges:

1. Attend college fairs & visit tables of a few schools you haven’t heard of

It’s important to know about the options out there because there are so many!

2. Tour two local colleges

I recommend visiting a large state school and a small private college. That way, you can compare the types of campuses. It’s a great way to learn about the kind of vibe and size you prefer when it comes to a college campus.

3. Write down five "non-negotiables" for your college experience

These non-negotiables could be a large sports program, warm weather, a strong physics program, small class sizes, close to (or far from) home, or an amazing debate team.

4. The Big Future section of College Board has a great starting point

You can filter colleges by campus size, majors, location, and myriad other parameters. Use some of those "non-negotiables" in the filters! It’s a great way to get an initial list of schools to research.

5. Look up some of those schools on sites like Unigo & Niche

And then take notes so you can compare!

If I could do it all over again, I would still go to Miami, but I would also craft a smarter list and do it earlier in high school so I could make sure I maximized the options I had. By opening up your list to options you might not have originally considered, and by doing your research early and in a smart way, you will have a list of great college options. And then, go ahead and throw Miami University, the best school in the country (obviously), on the list. Go Redhawks!

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