MINERVA VOICES

A First-Year Student’s Advice for Choosing a College

by Allyce Yang | Class of 2020

April 19, 2019

College Decision Day is coming up, and if you’re feeling stressed or confused, you’re definitely not alone. Just a year ago, I was practically pulling my hair out trying to decide between Minerva, two Ivy League universities, or forgoing college to pursue a career as a freelance writer. If you’re not sure whether you should enroll at Minerva, or another school — or whether to enroll at all — here are some thoughts that really helped me make the choice that was right for me.

Imagine Your Life After You’ve Earned a College Degree

This may seem scary to think about right now, especially when you’re still deciding where you’ll be this fall. But if you take a step back and think about what you would like to accomplish after college, it might help you figure out what exactly each college can offer you. Around this time last year, I was dreaming of adventure, cultural exploration, personal growth, and intellectual stimulation — all of which pointed me away from traditional universities and toward Minerva.

Reflect on Your Previous Educational Experiences

Now that you’re about to open a new chapter in your life, look back on your educational history. How does the idea of college make you feel? Excited, scared, impatient, overwhelmed, emotional? Personally, after 12 years in traditional American public education, I was fed up with learning just for high test scores and grades. Although I had been accepted to some reputable traditional universities, like UPenn and Columbia, Minerva’s innovative curriculum made me feel an excitement for learning — and life — that I hadn’t felt in a long time.

Consider How Much Academic Flexibility You Want

You may have applied to certain schools because of a specific degree program, or a department’s reputation. But once at university, you may discover that you hate what you once loved, or a subject you’ve always been bad at could become your true passion. Do yourself a service now, and consider how much you would like to explore different and diverse topics at university, and how much academic freedom each of your options will give you. After poring through the curricula and majors at all the universities I was admitted to, I realized that Minerva would give me the most interdisciplinary and intellectually stimulating education, especially since I can design my own final projects, tutorials, and capstone project.

Remember that No College can 100% Guarantee your Future Success

Many people, including my family, urged me to pick UPenn or Columbia over Minerva because they thought the reputation guaranteed me a successful career. But I don’t buy that, and neither should you. Look beyond U.S. News rankings and international prestige, and consider which university will provide you with the most opportunities to learn, live life to its fullest, and pursue your desired career. If you’ve been admitted to Minerva, you’re certainly creative, talented, and hard-working enough to make it anywhere in the world, regardless of what you decide to do with the next four years of your life. Even though Minerva doesn’t have the centuries of history that Columbia does, we’re definitely not short on opportunities for talented, driven students. In fact, even though I’m just finishing my first year, I have become a freelance marketer and helped found an education technology consultancy, through connections I made at Minerva.

Take some time alone to reflect, journal, contemplate, and dream about how you hope to spend these next four years. It’s been about a year since I decided to enroll at Minerva, and I can tell you that the education, inspiration, opportunities, personal growth, and friendships that I’ve experienced here have made every single agonizing moment of the decision process worth it. In the end, I can’t make your decision for you, but I can tell you that I have never regretted mine.

Quick Facts

Name
Country
Class
Major

Cognitive Science and Economics & Political Science

Social Sciences & Business

Business & Computational Sciences

Business and Social Sciences

Social Sciences and Business

Computational Sciences & Social Sciences

Computer Science & Arts and Humanities

Business and Computational Sciences

Business and Social Sciences

Natural Sciences

Arts and Humanities

Business, Social Sciences

Business & Arts and Humanities

Computational Sciences

Natural Sciences, Computer Science

Computational Sciences

Arts & Humanities

Computational Sciences, Social Sciences

Computational Sciences

Computational Sciences

Natural Sciences, Social Sciences

Social Sciences, Natural Sciences

Data Science, Statistics

Computational Sciences

Business

Computational Sciences, Data Science

Social Sciences

Natural Sciences

Business, Natural Sciences

Business, Social Sciences

Computational Sciences

Arts & Humanities, Social Sciences

Social Sciences

Computational Sciences, Natural Sciences

Natural Sciences

Computational Sciences, Social Sciences

Business, Social Sciences

Computational Sciences

Natural Sciences, Social Sciences

Social Sciences

Arts & Humanities, Social Sciences

Arts & Humanities, Social Science

Social Sciences, Business

Arts & Humanities

Computational Sciences, Social Science

Natural Sciences, Computer Science

Computational Science, Statistic Natural Sciences

Business & Social Sciences

Computational Science, Social Sciences

Social Sciences and Business

Business

Arts and Humanities

Computational Sciences

Social Sciences

Social Sciences and Computational Sciences

Social Sciences & Computational Sciences

Social Sciences & Arts and Humanities

Computational Science

Minor

Computational Science & Business

Economics

Social Sciences

Concentration

Applied Problem Solving & Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence

Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence & Cognition, Brain, and Behavior

Designing Societies & New Ventures

Strategic Finance & Data Science and Statistics

Brand Management and Designing Societies

Data Science & Economics

Machine Learning

Cells, Organisms, Data Science, Statistics

Arts & Literature and Historical Forces

Artificial Intelligence & Computer Science

Cells and Organisms, Mind and Emotion

Economics, Physics

Managing Operational Complexity and Strategic Finance

Global Development Studies and Brain, Cognition, and Behavior

Scalable Growth, Designing Societies

Business

Drug Discovery Research, Designing and Implementing Policies

Historical Forces, Cognition, Brain, and Behavior

Artificial Intelligence, Psychology

Designing Solutions, Data Science and Statistics

Data Science and Statistic, Theoretical Foundations of Natural Science

Strategic Finance, Politics, Government, and Society

Data Analysis, Cognition

Brand Management

Data Science and Statistics & Economics

Cognitive Science & Economics

Data Science and Statistics and Contemporary Knowledge Discovery

Internship
Higia Technologies
Project Development and Marketing Analyst Intern at VIVITA, a Mistletoe company
Business Development Intern, DoSomething.org
Business Analyst, Clean Energy Associates (CEA)

Conversation

College Decision Day is coming up, and if you’re feeling stressed or confused, you’re definitely not alone. Just a year ago, I was practically pulling my hair out trying to decide between Minerva, two Ivy League universities, or forgoing college to pursue a career as a freelance writer. If you’re not sure whether you should enroll at Minerva, or another school — or whether to enroll at all — here are some thoughts that really helped me make the choice that was right for me.

Imagine Your Life After You’ve Earned a College Degree

This may seem scary to think about right now, especially when you’re still deciding where you’ll be this fall. But if you take a step back and think about what you would like to accomplish after college, it might help you figure out what exactly each college can offer you. Around this time last year, I was dreaming of adventure, cultural exploration, personal growth, and intellectual stimulation — all of which pointed me away from traditional universities and toward Minerva.

Reflect on Your Previous Educational Experiences

Now that you’re about to open a new chapter in your life, look back on your educational history. How does the idea of college make you feel? Excited, scared, impatient, overwhelmed, emotional? Personally, after 12 years in traditional American public education, I was fed up with learning just for high test scores and grades. Although I had been accepted to some reputable traditional universities, like UPenn and Columbia, Minerva’s innovative curriculum made me feel an excitement for learning — and life — that I hadn’t felt in a long time.

Consider How Much Academic Flexibility You Want

You may have applied to certain schools because of a specific degree program, or a department’s reputation. But once at university, you may discover that you hate what you once loved, or a subject you’ve always been bad at could become your true passion. Do yourself a service now, and consider how much you would like to explore different and diverse topics at university, and how much academic freedom each of your options will give you. After poring through the curricula and majors at all the universities I was admitted to, I realized that Minerva would give me the most interdisciplinary and intellectually stimulating education, especially since I can design my own final projects, tutorials, and capstone project.

Remember that No College can 100% Guarantee your Future Success

Many people, including my family, urged me to pick UPenn or Columbia over Minerva because they thought the reputation guaranteed me a successful career. But I don’t buy that, and neither should you. Look beyond U.S. News rankings and international prestige, and consider which university will provide you with the most opportunities to learn, live life to its fullest, and pursue your desired career. If you’ve been admitted to Minerva, you’re certainly creative, talented, and hard-working enough to make it anywhere in the world, regardless of what you decide to do with the next four years of your life. Even though Minerva doesn’t have the centuries of history that Columbia does, we’re definitely not short on opportunities for talented, driven students. In fact, even though I’m just finishing my first year, I have become a freelance marketer and helped found an education technology consultancy, through connections I made at Minerva.

Take some time alone to reflect, journal, contemplate, and dream about how you hope to spend these next four years. It’s been about a year since I decided to enroll at Minerva, and I can tell you that the education, inspiration, opportunities, personal growth, and friendships that I’ve experienced here have made every single agonizing moment of the decision process worth it. In the end, I can’t make your decision for you, but I can tell you that I have never regretted mine.