Five things to ponder when choosing a college
Perry Robinson, former vice president for admissions, suggests five factors to consider when choosing a college or university.
- Match Your Needs
- Transitionary Programs
- Don't buy "name recognition"
Make sure the college matches your needs, values, personal circumstances and personality, both academically and from a student culture standpoint. Think deeply about how relationships work at the college you're considering. Research continually demonstrates that first-year students who immediately build relationships with faculty and/or peers persist at higher rates than those students who are unable to develop and cultivate those kinds of relationships early in the first semester of the first year.
No matter what your background, the first week, month, semester or year of the first year of college is unlike any other. It’s important that the college has exceptional programs designed to help students to transition successfully from secondary school to college and through the first year.
Families will be investing a great deal of time, money and effort into the post-secondary experience. Determine the kinds of on-and-off campus services/programs the college provides that assist students to “on-board” to their next step after the undergraduate years are completed. An institution should be transparent when proving its “return on investment.”
Be highly sensitive to loan indebtedness, but understand that college loans are also a reasonable expectation as long as they are managed effectively. There is nothing wrong with the greatest benefactor of an undergraduate experience (the student) having a little “skin-in-the-game” in the guise of a student loan or two. Also look at the college’s graduation rates. If average graduation rates are five or six years for a college, the bargain of a lower-priced education at a college with lower rates suddenly vanishes.
While familiarity with the name of a college breeds comfort and confidence, it's not the best way to select a school. The perfect college may be one that parents, relatives or friends have never heard of ... and that’s all right! Remember it’s not your job to know the reputations of the some 4,000 colleges and universities in the country, but it IS the job of those who one day will be making a decision about hiring you for their corporation or admitting you into their medical, law or business schools. They will have a very good understanding of the value of your degree.