3 Things House Hunters Taught Me About The College Search Process

Recently I found out that House Hunters was on Hulu, so of course, I started binge watching episodes of this show. House Hunters is a show that is on HGTV and it follows couples as they tour homes and decide which home they would like to call their own. As I was watching this show I realized that you can take a lot of the lessons learned there and use them to discuss the college search process. It is summer and whether you are about to start college after a grueling search process or you are looking forward to starting the search process I think you will like this post.

1. You Must Have A Wish list

Creating a wish list of what you expect from your college is key to have a successful college search process, just like it is key to finding the perfect house on House Hunters. If you have ever watched an episode of House Hunters you know that the whole premise of the show is finding the person or couple three houses that meet elements of their wish list while also sticking within their budget. In order to have a successful college search, you need to start with a strong wish list. Here are some ideas of things you may want to include on your wish list, ultimately you want to make sure that you create a wish list that is specific enough so that you aren't looking at all the colleges but wide enough so that you have enough colleges to look at.

Potential Wish list Items

  • Country: What country do you want to attend college in?
  • Region Of The Country: What part(s) of that country would you most like to be in?
  • Majors Offered: What major(s) do you need the college to offer?
  • Urban, Suburban, or Rural Surrounding Area: What does the surrounding area look like? Are you in a small town or a big urban city?
  • Small, Medium, or Big Campus: How big is the campus population?
  • On-Campus Dining Options: What options are there for eating on campus?
  • Public Transportation: What does the public transportation look like on campus and in the surrounding area?
  • Extra-Curricular Activities: What clubs and organizations are on the college campus?
  • On-Campus Living Options: What living options are there? Will you be forced to live in a dorm or are there on campus apartments?
  • Class Sizes: How big are the classes? Can you expect a ton of huge freshman lectures, or are the class sizes pretty small?
  • Campus Diversity: How diverse is the campus? If you are a part of a minority population will you feel like an outcast?
  • Campus Safety: How safe is the campus? Are their blue lights around campus? Is the Police Department Heavily Involved?
  • Cost Of Attendance: What is the COA of the campus? Is it expensive? Are their scholarship opportunities?
  • College Prestige: How prestigious is the university to the state or the country as a whole?
  • Alumni Relations: How are the alumni of your college doing? Are they able to easily find jobs?

Narrowing Down Your Wish list

As you can tell there are SO many things that you can add to your wish list, but it is about narrowing down your wish list to a couple of really important details. House Hunters obviously oversimplifies this process as their wish lists usually include three simple must-haves, but you do want to simplify this wish list as much as possible so that you can have an easy search college search process.

Sit down with your preliminary thoughts about your ideal college and see if you can narrow that wish list down a bit so that you are focusing on the most important wish list items instead of all the wish list items.

2. Compromise Is A Must

It is simply not realistic to expect that you will find a college that meets all of your wish list items perfectly. Compromise is key if you want to find a college that you will be able to call home without getting overly stressed out. 

If you look at an episode of House Hunters, rarely will the real estate agent be able to show the couple a house with all of their wish list boxes checked off. Also, sometimes the real estate agent will show them a house that is way off their radar, but it ends up being a beautiful house that they really feel at home in.

Don't let your wish list stop you from exploring

When you have these checkboxes it can be really easy to become so focused that you forget to explore a bit. Finding your perfect college will take time and energy. You must be willing to slow down and really explore the different college options that are out there. 

With a house search, exploring is a bit easier because you can hire someone like a real estate agent to help you navigate the search process. There are ways to explore with the college search process, though, you just have to be open to all the ways that you can explore a college campus.

Look at colleges and universities that are completely outside of your wish list. If you are sure you want to attend college in a big city, also look at some colleges that are in a suburb or a rural town. You might be surprised at how you feel once you actually look at those colleges.

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3. Touring Multiple Colleges Is Crucial

This may just be the past college tour guide in me talking, but I believe that touring as many colleges as you can is crucial. If you can only afford to tour one college, that is okay, but I think the more the merrier.

In an episode of House Hunters, they really make a big deal of touring each house, asking questions about the house and the neighborhood, and just being an engaged homebuyer. When you tour your college, you should try to be just as engaged. When I was a college tour guide I loved when people were open and asked a lot of questions. I didn't like giving the same, boring cookie-cutter campus tour. Don't know what to ask your college tour guide? I have a great list of possible questions you may want to ask as you are touring.

What if you can't tour a campus?

Sometimes you can't afford to to tour a campus. You may be looking at colleges out of state or even out of the country so a campus tour would be asinine. If that is the case, consider these other options:

  • Virtual Tours: Many college campuses have invested in videos that showcase the campus virtually. These can be a great resource if you can't come to campus.
  • Information Nights: If you live in a nearby state or in a different part of a state, colleges will often host information nights closer to your location. I know that my alma mater UCA used to host Information Nights where college admissions counselors would attend events in different cities across the state which helped bring the college to smaller towns across Arkansas.
  • Brochures: Many colleges have tons of admissions brochures that can be really in-depth and chock full of informational tidbits.
  • College Newspapers: Another great way to get a feel for the college is by reading their college newspaper. A lot of colleges share their newspapers online so if you can find them, it would be a great way to get a feel for the campus from students who live on/near campus.
  • Social Media: Another great source of learning about a college is by looking at their various social media platforms. Don't just look at the information that the college itself puts out look at people who attend the school as well. Do they show pride in their university? Do they talk about their campus community often? Really look at what people are saying about your potential school and how they interact with it on social media.

Bias with virtual tools

Obviously if you are depending on virtual tools to think about the college search process you will have a bit of bias. Virtual tours are crafted by the university (and so are information nights and brochures), college newspaper staff members are often paid at least somewhat by the university, and everyone tries to be as positive as possible on social media.

It is important to just try to get information from as many sources as possible to paint your picture of the university and try to see through the bias. Of course there is going to be some amount of bias when it comes to virtual tools and you can't expect to get the full picture, but that shouldn't stop you from using these tools.

Final Thoughts

House Hunters is a great show that can teach us a ton about the college search process. This blog post idea is such a basic concept but I am always here to share random, interesting thoughts about college and college life with y'all.

What has a television show taught you about the college search process?

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Amanda Cross

My name is Amanda Cross and I am the blogger behind The Happy Arkansan. I am a 20 something college graduate, graduate student, and all around awesome person.

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Interview With A College Student: Vanessa Lopez

Welcome back to our new series Interview With A College Student! This week I am sharing an interview with Vanessa Lopez a student from Harvard University who runs an amazing blog for all my followers who love science called Vibrant Science. Vanessa gave so much great advice in this interview so I hope you find it useful.


 

Name: Vanessa Lopez

Major: Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology

Year: Sophomore

Vanessa Lopez

What made you decide to attend college?

I never really had another option. I was told that I needed to go to college from a young age but was never told how to get there, so I turned to the internet to help me in my college application process during high school. In high school, I was one of the top students every year and that made the administration and teachers keep an eye on me to make sure I intended to apply to great schools.

 

What has been the best memory of your collegiate life thus far?

I know that my best memory will be from my study abroad experience this upcoming fall, but if I had to choose from the past two years, I would say it would be my very first Harvard Yale football game. All of the Harvard students traveled to Yale and I hadn't left Massachusetts at the time yet, so that was fun to get out of the Harvard bubble. I'd also never before felt such spirit from the school and it reminded me of games back home in Texas where there is much school spirit and pride at every football game. The combination of reminding me of home and getting to explore away from campus led to it being my best memory so far. We also won that game!

What is the best piece of advice you have for incoming freshman?

My biggest piece of advice would be that it is okay to quit things. I was brought up on the notion that quitting was never an option and that if I committed to something I needed to stick to it. However, in college, I realized that sometimes quitting is the only way to retain your sanity. Most freshmen will join a ton of clubs and commit themselves to many activities on top of their school work and jobs and that is okay. Freshman year is the time to explore all your options and learn what really interests you. Moving forward, however, these same students need to understand that letting go of something you started and weren't that into after all is completely fine. It is okay to cut back on things in order to keep your mental health in check and your stress levels healthy.

What organizations are you involved in?

Her Campus Harvard, Science Club for Girls, I volunteer at a homeless shelter with a group called Y2Y, and a cultural pre-professional organization called Latinos in Health Careers.

What is your best study tip?

Condense, condense, condense! I like to review a lecture the same day and try to write out the notes from the lecture in my own words. Then, when it comes to the exam, I will look back on this version of notes and create an even more condensed version for each lecture that will be covered on the exam and create a very condensed little study guide to take with me and study off of. This is helpful for a comprehensive final exam as well because you have already condensed all of your notes down and don't have to waste time creating a final study guide because you made it over time during the semester!

What is your best tip for surviving living in the dorms/residence halls?

I hate plain white walls, they really stress me out. I also can't have a lot of room decor because I live on the opposite side of the country from where I go to college, so with limited storage and space, I rely on covering my walls with tapestries! They do wonders for making the room feel like my own even when I'm switching rooms every year. In addition, it's really easy to find cheap picture frames at thrift stores nearby, so creating a small gallery wall above my bed also helps to make the room feel more home-y and less depressing and I won't feel bad about having to throw out the frames at the end of the year because they were so cheap!

What is your best tip for sticking to your budget in college?

Limit yourself to one treat a week or every two weeks. A treat can be anything from Starbucks to a shake to a box of Insomnia cookies; all of these little things add up! Limiting yourself will help keep your bank account happy and your health happy at the same time.

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Amanda Cross

My name is Amanda Cross and I am the blogger behind The Happy Arkansan. I am a 20 something college graduate, graduate student, and all around awesome person.

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How To Survive Summer Break As A College Student

Ahh...summertime. The time where many college students flock, well, home.

After living on your own for 3/4 of a year, it may be very difficult to transfer back to living under your parent's roof and by their rules. One weekend you go from late night Target runs to being home by 12 AM. It seems a little unfair? But is it really?

I am not going to lie to you, coming back home for summer break is a LOT to take in, but I am confident in you. Today I am going to share my biggest tips for surviving summer break as a college student so that you can spend more time this summer enjoying yourself, and less time being upset about the freedom that you used to have.

How To Survive Summer Break As A College Student | Returning home after being gone for 3/4th of a year can be really difficult for any student. Today on the blog I am going to share five tips for dealing with being home for the summer so that you can keep your great relationship with your parents while surviving the summer and enjoying your time back home.

1. Find An Apartment Or Sublease For The Summer

If you are not ready to go home for the summer and give up your freedom, you don't have to go. Ultimately, you just can't stay in most dorms over the summer unless you get a summer lease for a summer class or something similar.

Don't feel the need to leave your college town if you don't want to and you have a job or are otherwise able to pay the bills. PLENTY of people get 12 month leases but don't stay in their apartments over the summer. A lot of people choose to move back home or they do a study abroad trip for the summer.

Ask around your friend group to see if anyone is subleasing their apartment for the summer, or even better, move into an apartment.

Many apartments have a TON of openings right now that they are trying to fill before the school semester starts. They may even have some good promotions happening right now because they are trying to fill so many open spots. 

When it comes to apartments: read reviews, get the lowdown on all the apartment have to offer, and make a smart decision. Don't rush into a lease just because you don't want to go home for the summer just yet. Make a rational decision if you were planning on looking for housing at the moment. I would only use this option if you also plan to stay in that apartment during the school year.

But, back to subleasing. Subleasing is a great way to help someone out and live in an apartment over the summer without taking on a super short term lease. With subleasing you are usually working with the original lease owner and the apartment manager to pay the rent. It's great because you are paying their original rent and not paying huge fees for a short term lease. When you are only staying at a place for three months, the rent can be kind of expensive because of the turnover the apartment will have to endure getting the room ready so many times.

If subleasing or getting an apartment is not an option for you, let's chat about what you should do to survive summer break at home as a college student.

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2. Come To Terms With The Change

Okay, it's going to be a wild and bumpy ride, y'all. College affords a TON of freedom that being home under your parent's roof just doesn't afford. I mean, during my freshman year alone I:

  • Got a tattoo late at night on a random school night
  • Went to a handful of parties
  • Went to many a midnight/late night movie
  • Went on many late night/spontaneous trips to Walmart (many times when I should have been studying for exams)
  • Ate way too much takeout and restaurant food (including many late nights at Waffle House & iHop)

Many of those things (and more) I would not have been able to do under my parents roof. Being home was an adjustment that I had to come to terms with.

At the end of the day, you have probably lived with your parents for 18 or so years, so a few months between leases will not kill you. It's going to be an adjustment, but dear, I am confident you can conquer it.

Personally, I treated the summer as calm place. During the school  year I was usually moving around from one thing to the next. Class, work, sorority events, etc. every. single. day. That can get quite tiring. So, yes, I had to adjust to a slower pace at home but ultimately those slow moments made for balance in my otherwise way to crazy school life.

3. Chat With Your Parents About The Rules

Your parents know that you are used to certain freedoms in college that you don't get when you are at home. I am not saying that they will go nuts and give you all the freedoms after you return home from college, but I am telling you to have a serious chat with your parents about the rules.

If you never talk with your parents about adjusting your rules, there is no way that you will know how much they are willing to adjust the rules. Sit down with them and talk through the transition back home. Let them know that you want to re-evaluate the rules you had when you were in high school to accommodate for the growth that you have made since you were in college.

Above all else, once those rules are set, freaking follow them! Your parents are probably very excited to have you home, but it's an adjustment that never gets easy in my opinion. This is likely your parents first big break with you as winter break is usually about a month but summer break is a whole quarter of a year! Give your parents a break as they are getting back to having you in their lives (for at least a few months.)

How To Survive Summer Break As A College Student

4. Get A Hobby

Time is definitely going to pass a bit slower, so you want to take up something to fill your time. You could:

  • Get A Job: A job is not really a hobby, but it's money that will help you out a TON so you have spending money for the summer (and if you budget correctly) during the school year too.
  • Start A Blog: Blogging isn't for everyone, but it could be fun to take the time you have now and use that time to start a blog and connect with people across the country.
  • Craft: One of my favorite things to do during the summer after my freshman year was craft. I moved into an apartment my Sophomore year so I was able to get my college dorm deposit back. I used that money to load up on craft supplies at Walmart and made ~cute~ paintings (and I say cute like that because they were ugly AF but it was a fun experience.) I'll stick to designing cute things on Photoshop though.

Whatever your hobby for the summer is, find it so during those times when you can't leave the house or your friends/family are busy, you can spend your time doing said hobby (and maybe even making a bit of money from it!)

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5. Know That Being An Adult Is More Than Late Night Ice Cream Trips

It's so easy to be upset at the fact that you can't do what you could do while at college. I think it comes down to understanding that being an adult is more than just getting what you want. It would be nice if you could spend time with who you want, stay out as late as you want, and grab ice cream at 3 AM but that may not be your life during the summer.

You are an adult now but you also need to respect your paren't wishes and live by their rules while you are staying under their roof (probably rent free.) They are saving you a ton of money by letting you live there and eat their food, so be respectful and learn to love it even if it's not the same freedom you had in college.

Understand that being an adult doesn't consist of getting what you want 24/7. Many people go through their adult life never getting what they want 100% of the time. You can suck it up for a summer (or four) for the sake of free food and lots of love from your parents.

Final Thoughts

I hope that this post was helpful for you as you begin to embark on your journey back home after spring semester. You are going to have a ball living at home, it may just feel a bit stifling at the moment. Take a deep breath and get excited to spend time with  your family and friends back home this summer.

Extra Resources

Here are some extra resources from places across the web that also cover this topic. Do some research so you understand how to survive this time back home.

10 Tips For Getting Along With Your Parents Over Summer Break from Cabrini University

7 Skills to Learn Living With Parents During College Summer Break from Education Quest Foundation

Home (Bitter) Sweet Home: A College Student Perspective from Grown & Flown

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Amanda Cross

My name is Amanda Cross and I am the blogger behind The Happy Arkansan. I am a 20 something college graduate, graduate student, and all around awesome person.

The Ultimate College Toolkit

Dec15

Enter your name and email address to get instant access to my college toolkit. The toolkit features 60+ resources to help you with things like writing, research, scholarships, dorm decor, and so much more. This toolkit will be updated with new resources every month so please check it out today!

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