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Smart Person Worried About Being Surrounded by Nerds

Dear Harlan: My top three schools are the University of Texas, Ohio State University and the University of South Carolina. I know that, with the exception of Ohio State, I will not know anyone there. At the University of South Carolina, I am applying to the honors college. My only fear of applying to the honors college is that I will be, for lack of better terms, surrounded by nerds. I want to be surrounded by intelligent people, but at the same time, I want to have fun going to football games and having a full college experience. Is this a reasonable fear?

— Searching

Dear Searching:  I love that you care enough to feel uncomfortable. This is going to help you ask the right questions and choose the best school. I’d be very surprised if you end up surrounded by nerds in any honors college. Most of these students are dynamic and talented. They’re involved in lots of activities and organizations. Most are leaders. In fact, if you’re applying, assume lots of people like you are applying too. But don’t take it from me. Whenever something makes you uncomfortable, think “people, places and patience.” Find the people on campus living the life you want to live. Find the places where students are doing things you want to do. Reach out to them. Ask them questions. Connect with the admissions office and the honors college. Find students who are living the life you want to live. Ask them how they chose their school, found their friends and what they wish they had known. These people are just you in the future. Start with the admissions office; talk to campus ambassadors; find department social media accounts; look for recent grads from your high school; use social media. If someone isn’t where you want to go, ask if anyone knows people in the places you want to go. Ask them what you want to know, and you will be amazed how quickly your questions will be answered and your fears alleviated.

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