The Agony of the College Search

 Katie, my high school junior, and I have spent the past two days touring four different colleges (with Morgan in tow). A couple weeks ago, we visited one school, and this weekend we will visit another. I’m not sure what takes a worse beating, my pounding head, my exhausted body, or my aching feet. Searching for the perfect college is not for the faint of heart.

When I set out to choose a school, over 25 years ago, I had no idea where to begin. My parents had not gone to college (shout out to Mom who never gave up on getting her degree after becoming a busy mom). As a student at a rather large high school, I didn’t find the guidance department particularly helpful. It was all a guessing game, so I did my best to guess what the right fit would be for me. I failed miserably. I did no visits, conducted no research, and made no comparisons. I chose a school from a catalog at school, applied, received a full scholarship, and signed on the dotted line. Within the first month of school, I knew I had made a huge mistake. At the end of the year, I transferred to the school where one of my best friends attended. It was a good experience, and I graduated with honors; but looking back, I’m sure it would not have been my school of choice had I done things the right way.

Fast forward 20 years to when our oldest was beginning the college search. After convincing her to narrow her list of “top choices” from 27 to 9, we began our rounds. My husband didn’t understand why we were spending so much time and money traveling from one college to the next (after all, he pretty much did the same kind of college search I did, and his experience was great). But I knew that Rebecca was a lot like me, and that she needed to find the perfect niche. I also knew that if she ended up transferring, the world would not come to an end. Luckily for all of us, she has never been happier in her life. She made the right choice, and her future looks bright.  

So back to Katie. Five down, and one to go. So far, she has a top choice, a backup, and a reach school. She hopes that this weekend’s visit will produce a solid second choice so that she can start focusing on what matters most to her – meeting the tennis coach and establishing a place on the team. She has made notes – “great food and lots of coffee bars,” “spacious dorm rooms,” “close proximity between dorms and tennis courts.” Once she knew that her major and area of interest were covered, she started concentrating on the logistics of life of campus. Wherever she goes, I just want her to be happy.

At least I feel slightly ahead of the game for the next time around. Morgan, now in 9th grade, has fallen in love with two of the schools we toured. Both have pre-med, so that’s a good start. Maybe if I’m lucky, she will have her school before we get to this point two years from now. And I will be able to add to my resume “Professional College Finder.”

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages.  She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her latest book, Picture Me, is the recipient of an Illumination Award, placing it among the top three eBooks of 2015. Her next book, Whispering Vines, is now available for pre-order.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at and on her web site

Amy’s books:  Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015)

One thought on “The Agony of the College Search

  • Great job, mom! It will all be worth it. Wish my parents had been that involved. I think we tend to forget, teens are still kids who need guidance!

Comments are closed.