Deciding where to go to college, keep this in mind - "It doesn’t matter where you go, it’s what you do when you get there."
As college basketball players enter into their championship game, they must appreciate that they played a great season... The same is true of the college application process...resulting in acceptances, rejections, and ultimately - choices. Now, for students in the midst of their own March Madness, the second-guessing begins about their futures...In this March Madness, those of us who work with students need to help them understand that each option they have will lead down a unique path, following its own timeline, toward an exciting new reality.
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Plan a college choice campus visit
As your college acceptances arrive and you narrow your list of options of where to attend next fall, one of the best ways to determine which school is a good fit for you is to visit the college. Even if you already visited the campus when you were deciding where to apply, visit again. An in-person visit of course is the best option, but if time, distance or cost are too much of an obstacle - do your best to experience a visit virtually. If a college visit isn’t practical, here is what you can do from home or school:
- Spend time on the college's website - look for these campus aspects
- Look for video tours online
- Locate and review college's web pages for your potential academic department, professors, and courses.
- Search for student perspective on social media
- Review online professor ratings
- Read the online campus newspaper
- Read the online news from the surrounding area near by campus
- Talk with local current students or recent alumni.
- Meet with college reps at college fairs
Aspects to consider when choosing your college
Go beyond public reputation or popularity. Organize your individualized review of multiple campuses using like aspects, this can help you find the college that is right for you. You determine what aspects to prioritize.
Consider aspects in these 5 categories - see the full list here:
- Student Experience
- Post Graduation
There are many factors applicants can use to evaluate college campus comparisons - see here for a full list. If you are still struggling to choose between colleges based on what the campuses offer current students - consider working the equation backwards. Ask yourself, "Who, what and where do I want be when I graduate?" Then, research if graduates from your college options have achieved similar goals.
- Do graduates get accepted in the graduate programs you want to pursue?
- Do graduates pass certification or graduate school entrance exams?
- Do graduates hold professional positions you are seeking?
- Do graduates participate in alumni networking and donate to the school?
Most colleges offer campus services that students can use when they need help. Supportive services should include health and wellness, academic support, academic advising, career planning, financial aid, and more.
This can be another unique factor to consider when you are deciding where you want to attend college.
FACT: College is what you make of it. What you do while you’re there matters more than the college name on your diploma.
Each potential college will lead students down a unique path, following its own timeline, toward an exciting new reality. So remember, it matters less where you go. The most important aspect is what you do when you get to college, where ever you choose to enroll.
- brand name recognition (does not mean it is right fit for YOU)
- the look and feel of campus (this does not ensure a quality education or that it will land you a great paying job after school)
- convenience of location (a school further from you may have more benefits for you)
- enrollment choices of friends (do not be a follower, select the right fit for you)
Fun Fact: March Madness basketball affects college applications
According to a recent analysis of federal Department of Education data by Bloomberg, schools that beat performance expectations during March Madness receive a bump not only in public awareness, but also in the number of applications they receive... these findings from Bloomberg fall within the expectations of the so-called “Flutie effect,” which draws a connection between on-field athletic success and university prominence. In 1984, Doug Flutie—then the quarterback of the Boston College Eagles—threw a miraculous Hail Mary pass to upset the University of Miami Hurricanes. After the electrifying, last-minute victory, Boston College saw a surge in applications. (credit)