Secrets of Choosing the Right College(s)

March 9, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured Articles

Few families are exposed to anything but surface-level information about prospective colleges. Become an informed consumer! Be very cautious about investing 50-200 thousand dollars in a college education. Be certain that you receive value for your money. Don’t follow the masses and then assume things will work out as hoped for. Each family must have convincing evidence about basic but crucial issues.

Is the school strong in the student’s area of interest?
Most 18 year- olds do not know their future major. Few high school students and families explore the details of possible majors and how these might lead to a career path. Choosing a school without informed, developed plans for study is risky. What academic domains are most likely: social science, art, humanities, math, science, business or applied technical areas? Few colleges have stellar faculty in all departments; knowing areas of interest is crucial.

Do the schools on my list offer appropriate support for academic, career, and personal issues?
If a student performs best with high levels of attention from teachers, small classes, or extra time, then colleges at the top of the list must have these qualities. Many families drastically underestimate the amount of support their child will need at a competitive college. This oversight portends grief, poor grades, wasted effort, ineffective investment, and a tough blow to a student’s self esteem. Does the workload at my prospective college fit my needs?

Heavy out-of-class workloads are too much for certain students. The stress of meeting such requirements leads to burnout and poor grades. Too little assigned work often leads undisciplined students to boredom and wasted free time. Most students will match the effort of median classmates; if that effort is low, then under-performance is likely. Curricular variety is high amongst colleges. Look in the bookstore and see if the textbooks, assignments, and time demands fit your expectations.

Social life: How much stimulation, how many options, big time athletics, fraternities, sororities?
As the years go by, students have been more frequently captured by the idea that only students at large public universities have fun. Further, with the economic boom of 1983- early 2000s and continuous prosperity and easily available jobs, families lulled themselves to sleep in the belief that college was a 4 year hiatus before the realities of independent living took place.

The recession has awakened students and family to the truth of high demand for and low supply of jobs and graduate school slots. Times are now different. Do football games and rallies offset a a student’s competitive weakness in the work place and post bachelor studies? Students have fun whenever they want and wherever they are. Colleges differ by intensity of social life. What colleges will fit your notion of a good time and sufficiently prepare you for the current rigors of the work place and graduate school?

Seeing the future: Will my college faculty or alumni help me get a job or get into graduate school?
This is the question of the day. In a marketplace overloaded with qualified job and graduate school applicants, students are well-served to ensure their institution will help them move smoothly into the next phase of their life. A career service office cannot offer enough help. A large investment is wise when there is a substantial likelihood that the college offers support to the students’ future goals. Here, faculty and alumni effort are crucial.


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