Choosing your school: Is it time to get out of your comfort zone?
Choosing which school to attend can be a complex decision, especially if you’ve applied to—and been accepted by—more than one institution. With the confirmation deadline approaching on May 1, now is the time to make a tough choice. Will you stay close to home or study abroad? Stick with your friends, or forge your own path?
Using a tried and tested business approach could help you make your decision confidently. In business, we often apply a model developed by renowned educator and adventurer, Karl Rohnke. He says that every decision and action we take can be placed in one of three zones: comfort, stretch or panic.
How our comfort, stretch, and panic zones work
Comfort zone: where things feel familiar and easy.
This is the zone where you take actions and decisions about things you know how to do, and with people you know well. It’s a very comfortable and predictable place to be, but allows for little personal development or challenge.
Stretch zone: where things feel new and challenging.
This is the zone where you take actions and decisions for the first time or in new ways, and maybe meet some new people along the way. It’s a place where you can sometimes feel out of your depth, but you’re likely to feel stimulated and inspired too. Decisions and actions taken in the stretch zone can increase your skills and experience.
Panic zone: where things can feel terrifying!
This is the zone where any steps you take could feel like giant leaps into the unknown. Actions and decisions taken in the panic zone often have unpredictable outcomes, and can feel like a step too far in the present moment.
As we gain experience and knowledge, our decisions and actions will move across zones. For example, an exam you feel unprepared for might sit in your panic zone, then move into your stretch zone after a good revision session. Dividing your time between the comfort and stretch zones allows you to feel confident, while gaining a sense of personal growth.
“Dividing your time between the comfort and stretch zones allows you to feel confident, while gaining a sense of personal growth.”
How to apply these zones to your final school decision
Remember: you can only accept one admissions offer. Right now, making that final commitment to an undergraduate program might sit in your panic zone, particularly if it involves a big move away from home.
So, let’s try and shift that thought into your stretch or comfort zone by tackling some common worries. I call them the top three “what ifs.”
1. What if it’s hard to make friends?
Day one of undergrad is day one for EVERYONE. So don’t worry—every other student will be saying goodbye to family, friends and the place they call home too, especially if they’re studying overseas.
It also means that every student will be looking to make friends as soon as they arrive too, and your campus will support that. Welcome Week involves various social events, helping you to meet your classmates. You’ll also get chance to join a host of clubs and societies around things you’re passionate about or have always wanted to try.
You’ll soon build a new network of friends to explore campus life with.
“When I arrived for Welcome Week, everyone got on a boat and we sailed on the Thames. I had never been to London before, so the first time I got to see the sights was from the river, meeting lots of new people at the same time. I really enjoyed that experience.”
Sharon Skillings, Hult Undergraduate Class of 2016
2. What if my friends choose a different school to me?
Embarking on an undergraduate degree marks a natural shifting point in our lives, just like leaving for high school or elementary school did before now. And just as you may have felt sad about going to study somewhere different to your friends at each of those points, it also made room for new friends to come in.
Choosing somewhere close to home or where your friends are going could certainly make your first couple of weeks feel more comfortable. But you’ll soon build a new set of friends and interests wherever you go. And if you choose to study on an international campus, you’ll be learning about different cultures and making friends from around the globe.
“I chose Hult because I wanted to go to a school where people are passionate about education, business, and about networking with different people from all over the world.”
Irina Lisli, Hult Undergraduate Class of 2017
3. What if I’m not up to the challenge?
University-level studies can feel like a whole new ball game. But you ARE ready for it.
If you hold an offer from Hult, we’re confident you already have the Hult DNA. Your open mind, bold spirit, and resourceful attitude will equip you for whatever challenges may come. And if you need any help or advice during your studies, you’ll have a network of support on campus. Our faculty also have an open-door policy, so you can always find the help you need.
Some students even find that the things they worried about most actually turn out to be their favorite experiences.
“I had chosen to live in a shared room with a bunk bed. This was something that seemed like a fun adventure, but actually started to worry me. Sharing roughly 18 square meters with someone I’d never met before was a ‘make or break’ moment. Well, it’s safe to say that this was the absolute ‘make.’ Meeting my roommate is one of the best things about my experience.”
Caroline Voigt, Hult Undergraduate Class of 2018
So, are you ready to stretch yourself with your final school choice? Still unsure? Your Enrollment Advisor is always available to talk about these “what ifs” or any other questions you may have.
Don’t forget, your undergraduate years are an opportunity to follow your passions and start your own adventure. Visualize what you want to get out of this experience and place yourself at the center of your decision. Go with what feels right.