The best advice parents and guardians can give their student(s) is to choose their colleges based on “fit” – how well colleges would meet their criteria, including cost. Perceived college prestige or rankings are not relevant to “fit” and arguably should not play a role in choosing a school. Students will excel at schools where they are challenged, supported, happy, and fulfilled.
There are many online self-assessments that students can take to identify the types of schools best for them. Stephen Antonoff’s materials are generally considered among the best, and begin with a look at the student’s level of independence, enthusiasm for different kinds of work, and personality.
Basic questions and the results of the self-assessments will kick off the search. As they narrow down the list, students and their family should consider if they:
- Have a preferred state or region
- Want a co-ed or single-sex college
- Enjoy an urban, suburban, or rural setting
- Prefer a small, medium, or large college
- Have an interest in joining fraternities and sororities
- How important athletics are to their college experience
- How important student body diversity is to them
- What student organizations they may want to join
- Whether they want to study in a religiously oriented school
- Financial aid availability (don’t just look at the sticker price)
There are more than four thousand colleges and universities in the US, but you may be surprised by how quickly you can narrow down the list!
Adapted from an article by A Starting Line coach Karen Droisen.