Be Happy in College

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It puts a smile on my face when I meet with families who simply want their child to be happy in college. Think about that for a second. A key component in selecting a school should be the happiness of the student.

I have to say I love this approach. We live in a time when high school students present a picture perfect life on social media. Life on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat seem very happy. Almost too happy. Some might even say fake.

Reality can be a gut punch for kids who think they can be happy anywhere. If you are frightened of big cities will you truly enjoy an urban college experience? Or on the other hand if you are energized by the fast pace of New York, Boston or Philadelphia, will you be bored in small towns like Oberlin, Lewisburg or Brunswick?

College is really not about how many likes your pictures get online. If you are picking your school based on which have the best parties, let’s be real here. College is the place you will call home the next four years. You will learn about yourself and that should start during your college selection process.

So please take your college search seriously if you want to find happiness. Even if you have “visited” schools online, that is just their picture perfect marketing presentation to you. So are the postcards they might send you in the mail as well as the glossy brochures. Many students get excited by this marketing and believe these schools are recruiting them. Some think perhaps they are winning and will receive generous merit scholarships.

Although this probably will not make you happy, as a professional college consultant, let me explain that is all just a marketing campaign to get you to like their Facebook page, subscribe to their emails, and ultimately to apply to their school. So if you can travel and experience schools live and in person please do so. See for yourself if the students are happy. Talk to them one-on-one (not text or Facebook message) and get an unfiltered review of their college experience.

If your parents offer you to hire professional support to increase the odds of your happiness, strongly consider the benefits. There are no participation ribbons or plastic trophies for doing it alone.

As Pharrell famously sang, “If you feel like happiness is the truth” and “know what happiness is to you,” let’s dream big and decide happiness is what you want to do.

Let’s start the dialogue – feel free to comment. How important is happiness in college?

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