What do P’s and Q’s have to do with determining the perfect LGBTQ+ campus for you? P’s and Q’s will help steer you in the right direction until you find what you’re looking for.
PICTURE: Envision Yourself on Campus
It may sound silly, but there is a lot of truth to picturing what you want and making it happen. Step back for a moment and imagine yourself on your ideal campus. What does the campus look like? What kind of buildings, trees, and physical environments do you see? Think of yourself in classes, involved in campus life, or going out on the town. Take mental notes of what the campus looks like. Believe it or not, if you have an ideal place in your head, it might be the best fit for you. Don’t give up, do your research and try to find it.
PASSION: Find Your Passion
The secret to finding that perfect campus is understanding your passion. What makes you tick? This is true for anyone regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. Think hard about what you enjoy the most in life and what drives you. Do you like helping children or the elderly? Do you find math or science to be your calling? Or maybe your passion lies in artistic expression? There are so many people who are not doing what they truly love in life because they never searched for their passion early on or were not willing to take the necessary risks to pursue it. Of course, it's okay if you do not know your passion right off the bat or if it changes in college. But right now, dig deep inside and discover what you love the most in life. It will help guide your actions to choose a campus where that passion can come alive.
QUESTIONS: Ask Plenty of Questions
Call the campus and speak to the various staff or faculty who are responsible for LGBT issues. When you visit the campus, plan to meet students or attend LGBT functions where you can discuss openly your thoughts and concerns with other out members of the LGBT campus community. There is no such thing as a bad question, especially if it helps make your decision.
PATIENCE: Be Patient
It may be a long process full of many challenges. As an LGBT student, you may be faced with some difficult or even awkward situations. Always listen to what is being said and be respectful, even if it is not what you want to hear. It is better to learn the truth about the campus now then to have the wrong impression later. Plus, your goal is to find a campus where you can be queer in all aspects of your life. Remember, some students pick one campus and find what they want while others have to visit five campuses before they make up their minds. Take your time and plan ahead!
PREPARE: Be Prepared
Preparation can be the answer to tackling the bureaucracy of the college search. Learn the application deadlines, review financial aid procedures, and plan a campus visit with plenty of time for visiting other campuses, too. The best route is to create a plan of action with a timeline for choosing your college or university. The plan will help make sure you are o task and don’t forget something important. The college search can be easier if you’re organized and efficient in your preparation.
PROBE: Learn about the Environment
Depending on where you live or where you grew up, this may not be as significant to you. You may have lived in a conservative part of the country all your life while others have been more accustomed to more LGBTQ+-progressive ways of thinking. Probe the local community and the campus community while on your campus visit or do an online search beforehand. Also, consider the state where the campus resides. Many campuses are much more progressive and have stood out when compared to their area of the country. It’s okay to choose a campus in a region where there are still many challenges politically and socially (like in Florida and Texas for instance). Just remember this and the fact that you will be spending four or more years there.
QUIRKY and FUN: Have a Sense of Humor
A good sense of humor can break the ice and relieve stress along the way. LGBTQ+ life can be notoriously clique-oriented, depending on the scene. Find out how much fun campus life is for LGBTQ+ students. Are there plenty of LGBTQ+ social outlets and entertainment choices? Does the campus let its hair down now and then? Are there places to make friendships? Think about what you want and have a sense of humor getting there.
PRIORITIES: Don’t Forget the Reason for College
Why do you go to college? Academics, of course. It can be addictive to get caught up in the process of choosing a campus and forget about the academic studies that the campus offers. If you’re not interested in LGBTQ+ studies, you do not have to include this in your criteria. But, do remember to consider the academic standards, the job placement of graduates, and the faculty in choosing your perfect campus. Also, ask about the degree to which the academic world is LGBTQ+-inclusive. Believe it or not, they sometimes operate on separate tracks and can be much different than the student life world. Oh, and don’t forget to keep your grades up during the last couple of years in high school. It could determine whether or not you get an awesome scholarship!
PRIDE: Celebrate Who You Are
No matter how you choose to identify, envision yourself living happily on this campus. You want a place where you feel welcome, safe, and comfortable being who you are; where you can feel challenged academically and thrive holistically in the pursuit of bettering yourself. For some, this may mean discovering for the first time who they are. And, for others, this could be the opportunity t explore interests away from home. In both cases, your perfect campus should be a place where you are encouraged daily to be yourself and show pride in being queer. Look for that campus where you can celebrate who you are and be part of future progress.