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The worst parts of the college search, as told by cats

Cat in shower

Rebecca Dell
October 19, 2016

The college search process is exciting. But it’s also exhausting. Sometimes, it can make you feel about as happy as a cat on bath day. With that in mind, here are some of the worst parts of the college search — and some pro tips for making it better.

Paying application fees

You may be thinking, Don’t colleges understand that I’m about to pay them $30,000 per year? What an insult to be asked for an extra $50 or even $100 just to apply, with no guarantee of acceptance.

Pro tip: Colleges will sometimes include free application codes in certain marketing pieces or allow you to apply for free if you apply during a campus tour. If money is an obstacle, see if you qualify for an income-eligible fee waiver.

Soapy cat

Stressing out over cost

Maybe you’ve had your eyes on your perfect university since you were a baby and your parents dressed you in school-color outfits on game days. Or maybe you’ve carefully narrowed down your career goals, and you’ve found the best place to help you get where you’re going.

Then, after an infuriating search in the bowels of the school’s website to find the cost of attendance, your dreams are crushed by something as small as a comma where it shouldn’t be (like $40,000 instead of $4,000…). Ugh.

Pro tip: Don’t write off a school just because of the sticker price...necessarily. Depending on many factors, including your family income, your grades, your extracurricular involvement and more, you may be eligible for financial aid and scholarships. If you have a dream school, call their financial aid office and see what options you have. Be sure to file your FAFSA as early as possible.

At the same time, look into some more affordable universities, and see if you’re eligible for any local scholarships.

Cat showerhead

Making the final decision

If you’re lucky, you’ll get into your first-choice school, they’ll offer you all the financial aid you need, your parents will be on board, and all you’ll have to do is sign up for classes. More likely, though, you’ll have a couple of options that each come with pros and cons, and you’ll have to choose between them.

Pro tip: Ask yourself how much debt you want to be in, which college offers the program you’re more excited about, and which one is a better distance from home. Things like sports and activities matter, too, although cost and career prep should probably be bigger factors. 

Cat under faucet

Juggling the college search while finishing high school

We’ve seen it happen: All of a sudden, your mailbox is stuffed with identical letters from schools you’ve never heard of. You’ve stopped bothering to check your email. And your parents keep bugging you to set up some college tours. 

And you’re like, Actually, I’m more worried about the four tests I have this week.

Or vice versa — you’re having trouble focusing on high school because you’re so ready for college.

It’s a lot to juggle.

Pro tip: At this point, try to enjoy — or at least participate in — the process of getting from high school to college. It’ll be over soon, and you’ll be on to the next phase. If worse comes to worst, just think: At least you’re not a cat in a bath.

Cat in tub