Let's face it: you'd do just about anything to avoid having to sit and ponder your path to college. But by the second half of high school, the questions will start pouring in: “What do you want to study?” “Where do you want to go?” “Small college or big university?” And sooner or later, you'll need to do some serious thinking—before the college application deadline!
Want to start thinking about your options without all the annoying questions? Make thinking about college fun by designing and planning a Road to College board game. Here's how to get started.
What You Do:
- Sketch out a game board with an erasable pencil. Using classic games like Candyland as an example, sketch a twisty path from a “Start” point at one corner of the “board” to a “College” point at another. Once you're satisfied with the shape of the path, segment it into squares that a piece can move along.
- Now it's time to add some pizazz to the game board. Color in each square with a different or alternating color. Mark every few squares with a star or other symbol to set that square apart. If you are artistically inclined, decorate the “board” with illustrations. If not, use cut-outs from the college admissions booklets you've probably already begun to receive to paste college-related imagery to the scene.
- Next, make your game cards. These cards represent options and choices that you'll need to begin considering as you think about where you'd like to go, and what you want to study once you're there. Using a rule, divide one sheet of construction paper into quarters the long way, and sixths the short way, to make a grid of 24 rectangles. Line the other sheet of paper up behind this one and cut out the rectangles to make a total of 48 cards.
- Brainstorm about the different choices you may need to make while deciding which college is right for you. What kinds of different schools are there? What are the options in terms of size and distance from home? What sorts of subjects might you want to study? On each card, write one of the following terms, and add the other ideas you come up with. When you're finished, stack the cards face down and shuffle them up a bit before placing them on the game board.
- Possible card ideas include: Close to home, In state, Out of state, Large University, Liberal Arts College, Trade School, Art/Music School, Sports, Anthropology, Art History, Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Cinema Studies, Creative Writing, Cultural Studies, Dance, Economics, English, Environmental Studies, Foreign Language, Geology, History, Law, Mathematics, Physics, Politics, Psychology, Religion, Sociology, Studio Art, Theater.
- Now it's time to play! Using any small object (such as a coin, safety pin, or game piece borrowed from another game), place your pieces at the “Start” marker. Each player takes turns to roll the die and advance that number of squares on the board. If you land on a square marked with a star, draw a card from your deck. Think about if the option presented on the card, whether it's an area of study or a type of school, is a possibility for you. For example, if you are planning on studying in a scientific field, and you draw an “English” card, replace the card in the bottom of the deck and stay put. If you draw a “Chemistry” card and you may consider studying Chemistry, keep the card in a personal pile, and roll again.
- If you do not land on a starred square, you may choose to retreat to the last star square that you passed and draw a card, or simply stay put until your next turn. The first person to reach the “College” area at the end of the game path “wins,” but by the end of the game you should have accumulated a small stack of possible options for your future. It could be an eclectic variety of possibilities, or only a few cards.
This game is no substitute for serious thought about the future, but it will give you a chance to experiment with ideas in a low-pressure, fun environment. Hopefully, when it's time to make the final decision, you'll be prepared to draw the right card that will take you on the road that's best for you!