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Monday, July 23, 2012
Using Imagination to Pick the Right College
Last month I wrote about the ways in which rankings influence students' decisions about what college to attend. I do buy into the idea that the best fit for a particular student isn't necessarily a big name school. Certainly, for students with very specific professional aspirations, school name may matter more. But this isn't the main reason students gravitate towards big name schools.
I say, the number one reason students pick the wrong schools is lack of imagination. Selecting a college is really just a labor-intense shopping trip. The currency may be test scores and admissions essays, but the process is a lot like any consumer experience. Let's take your iPhone, for example. Is it the best possible smart phone on the market, or is it just the most popular?
Obscure liberal arts colleges in upstate New York just lack the glamorous sizzle of NYU. USC and UCLA look good on sweatshirts. They're also near Hollywood and Beverly Hills. Cool.
At seventeen, it is difficult to know what you want from the future. We're all drawn to the familiar. And if you don't know exactly what you're looking for, it makes sense to turn to the brand that everyone else is buying.
The problem is that there is always a downside to picking a college for the wrong reasons. Big, famous campuses have larger class sizes. It is easy to get lost in the crowd. Applying to the Ivies (with a 6-9% acceptance rate) might prove to be a side-swipe to a young student's confidence.
So sit down and really think about it. Listen to other students on sites like collegeprowler.com. Ask yourself the tough questions. Why is this your dream school? You might find the answer to be surprising.
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