Choosing a College

It is January and it is time for high school juniors to think about their college list.  I have been asked many times, “How should I begin?”  The short answer is to immediately go online and begin reading blogs, looking up student comments and learning about programs and professors, not just school reputation and data.  Here is a simple list of suggestions for starting the process:

  1. There are practical considerations:  location, cost, size of school, etc.  This information is easily found on sites such as:  https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/college-search; http://www.petersons.com/college-search.aspx; http://www.ecampustours.com/https://collegeprowler.com/
  2. Try to ignore all of the “helpful advice” you will get from friends, siblings and parents.  Picking a school because it is where everyone you know has gone is definitely not a way to ensure that you will have an experience that meets your own personal goals.
  3. Research courses and then take a look at the teachers.  Google them.  Where did they study?  What have they accomplished?  Is there something about them that makes you want to meet them?  Your instructors, as well as the students sitting on either side of you, will be your own personal community.  They will be the ones that impact where you go, and perhaps what you will do once you graduate.  Do not overlook the rich opportunity you have here to obtain an irreplaceable undergraduate experience.
  4. Try to visit colleges.  So many students think they know exactly what they want and then they walk onto campus, or better yet sit in on a class.  There is no better way to find out if you have discovered a place where you want to be for the next four years of your life.
  5. Take a look at my earlier blog that discusses what high school juniors should consider doing:  https://creativekcc.com/2012/03/13/high-school-juniors-it-is-time-to-get-organized/.

Frank Bruni wrote a wonderful article in the New York Times, “How to Choose a College.”  He makes the very important point that we should all be leery of the data provided in lists including statistics about entrance requirements, GPA’s and test scores.  Even some venerable institutions have had to admit that they inflated their data.  What truly matters is that you find a fit, an authentic reason to pursue your education at a particular school and ultimately the chance to use your undergraduate experience as springboard to a very happy, satisfying adulthood.  As one very wise college senior said, “I think what matters most when you choose a college is choosing the one that gives you opportunity for growth.”

Read Bruni’s article here:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/06/opinion/sunday/bruni-how-to-choose-a-college.html

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One Response to Choosing a College

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