Allie Fandel, Writer

All around the world, millions of students are starting to think about the college process or wrapping up their applications. Attending college is a big step and a change for many people; it is the start of a new chapter in many people’s lives. 


Along with myself, millions of students have hundreds of questions about college. These include: when should I start the process of looking at schools? How do I pick the right school? How many schools should I apply to? And should I apply for scholarships? 



Mr. Smith, like all guidance counselors, has worked with hundreds of students on the application process. He says that when applying to college, “earlier the better.” He believes that in your freshman year, you should really start buckling down and work on getting the best grades you can. In your sophomore as well as junior years, you should start looking at schools in which you may be interested. By your junior year, you should start looking at different essay prompts. 


Then, by senior year, you should start narrowing down what schools you want to go to and start applying to them. Another important question I had was how to pick the right school for me. Mr. Smith said that “knowing yourself” is extremely important, as well as knowing what factors in a college are most important to you. It is also essential to go out and tour many schools so you see a variety of them. My last question was how many schools should I apply to? Two reach schools, two safety schools, and two to four reach schools is the answer I got. 


The second interview I conducted was with my school’s head of guidance Mrs. Millard. 


On the same topic, Mrs. Millard says that “it’s never too early to start looking at college campuses.” When I asked her how to pick the best school, she had a similar answer to Mr. Smith. She says that you should focus on what you are looking for in a school, such as size, location, campus, etc. She made it clear that it is essential to listen to yourself in what you want, and not to base your decisions on what schools your friends may be going to. The last question I asked was, “should everyone apply for scholarships?” She said yes, 100%. 


After interviewing my school’s guidance counselors, I decided I wanted to get some student input on college as well. 


I interviewed Lauren Arnold, a senior at Pentucket. I asked her a variety of questions, starting with if she had her heart set on one school. She said that she did not, and wanted to look at as many schools as she could. Lauren started to apply to schools at the end of October 2022. When I asked if she wished she started sooner than she did she said yes. She is glad she started the Common App during the summer, but wished she did early action.


 She said that she applied to many small schools because she wanted a more close-knit environment. She wanted her experience at school to be more personable to her. Because of that, she was applying to more schools that had a 3,000-10,000 population range. Lastly, I asked her what factors she was looking for in a school. She was set on finding schools with good business programs. She applied to a few strictly business schools, such as Bently and Babson. Although she would like to go into business she also applied to many other schools that had a wider variety of majors, just in case she didn’t like the business major. Another factor for her was looking at schools that gave off the “college vibe.” She wants a pretty campus with modern buildings. As well as modern buildings, she made sure all of her schools were close to a city or town, and not in the middle of nowhere.


As well as getting student input, I also looked to get opinions from someone who had already graduated from college.


Mrs. Frietas, an excel teacher at Pentucket, explains her thoughts on the path she took when applying to and attending college. First, I asked Mrs. Freitas if she had a hard time picking what school to attend. She said she did because for a long time, she wanted to attend Endicott to play softball, but at the last minute she decided to attend the University of New Hampshire instead. She says that she is glad she did and loved UNH. For her, it was a little hard to pick a major. In her first year, she was in business, but she decided to switch to psychology. Ideally, she wanted to go into education, but she felt that she would be too far behind. Although she didn’t get the opportunity to take education as a major she believes that her knowledge of psychology has helped her in her current education career. The last thing that I asked was if she would have done anything differently. She said no. she loved the school she went to and applied with early action to all her schools, so she didn’t need to worry about it later when a majority of her peers were. 


I also interviewed my sister Emma Fandel, who is in her sophomore year at Lasell University. She did not have a hard time picking a school. She applied to a bunch of schools but only became serious with three. Once she toured the schools and started to take a deeper look at the majors they offered, the choice became very obvious to her. I asked if she had a hard time picking her major. Her answer was that it was definitely a little stressful, but not necessarily hard. At first, she was looking at schools she could go to with an undecided major. “Once I found Lasell I saw that they had a fashion program, which I didn’t even know was an option as a major at smaller schools.” “Once I learned this the answer became obvious” she knew that choosing Lasell and going in with a set major would put her ahead, as opposed to going in undecided which would “cause me more stress, and probably more money.” 


She also believes she picked the right school because she has met some great people and has made some amazing friends there. The school has given her great opportunities, and they have really great programs for her major. Lasell also had many of the factors she was looking for in a school. She says it’s a fairly small school, but there are enough people that it doesn’t feel like high school.


 Last but not least, I asked Emma if she would do anything differently. She said “the only thing I would’ve done differently is to really have focused on it more and not procrastinate stuff as much. The process was fairly stressful and nerve-racking to me, which caused me to put it off more than I should have.”  


College can be a major stressor in many high schoolers’ lives for many reasons. I wrote this article not just to answer my questions but to also help out others that may have similar questions.