20 Ways Not to Pick a College

When picking out schools to apply to, there are so many criteria to consider: size, location, programs, and research opportunities, only name a few. There are also common reasons, which seem valid, but will almost inevitably lead you to make a bad mistake.

Whether you are only just starting to check out your options or you are finalizing your list, here are the top 20 ways not to pick a college:

1. Go where your friends, including boyfriend or girlfriend, go. You’ll never figure out who you were meant to be if you limit yourself to your high school social group.
2. Consider only colleges that your mom and dad attended. While having legacy status can be a great benefit at the right school, decide for yourself if your parents’ alma maters actually fit your interests.
3. Go where mom and dad don’t want you to go. Defiance is powerful, but don’t let your opposition to your parents’ views drive you in the wrong direction.
4. Consider only the quality of the sports teams. Big name sports bring lots of school spirit, but don’t forget that you are supposed to focus first and foremost on your education.
5. Go where the best parties are. Let’s be honest – you’ll find great parties no matter where you go. You don’t have to pick a school based on its fun-loving reputation.
6. Look only at colleges within a 50-mile radius from home. College is, in part, about developing your independence and your adult identity. You can’t do that if you focus on staying super-close to home.
7. Don’t consider who you are and what you want from college. Selecting schools is about finding the right place where you will flourish over those 4 years.
8. Ignore the cost of a college when deciding where to apply. Do your due diligence and check out net price calculators, average student debt upon graduation, and graduation rates before you apply.
9. Fail to visit a college before deciding where to attend. Not only are campus visits great for demonstrating interest, they also help you determine whether or not a school is a great choice for you.
10. Rely on a college’s marketing. Of course schools are only going to show you the best of what they offer. So you need to figure out what you want first, before you let a college try to sell itself to you.
11. Apply only to prestigious colleges because they impress your friends and family. It’s not the name that matters in the end. It’s what you do with your time on campus that will take you far in life.
12. Choose a college based on the attractiveness of its students. Finding your soul mate can, of course, beimportant, but let it be based on what interests they share with you, not how they look.
13. Believe the harder it is to get in, the better it must be. Colleges constantly increase their selectivity, without increasing the quality of their education. Those numbers don’t mean anything, except that the admissions team is full of good marketers.
14. Let the choice just happen, rather than proactively exploring your options. You need to do alot of soul searching, so that you can articulate to colleges why you are a good fit.
15. Assume that all colleges are the same. From size to location, from diversity to religious affiliation, no two colleges will offer you exactly the same experience.
16. Rely on news magazines’ rankings. The rankings are a game to colleges, and they were designed to sell as many issues as possible for their creators. Take them with a grain of salt.
17. Rely on someone else’s opinion. It doesn’t matter if your friend didn’t like a school. You are not the same person.
18. Misjudge your ability to get in. In either direction, this is a bad idea. Be realistic, but also shoot for the stars.
19. Ignore available resources to get informed about your options. You can only make the best decision if you thoroughly research your options.
20. Decide there’s only one right college for you. If you do, you are possibly setting yourself up for a great deal of disappointment.

If you have chosen schools based on these criteria, it’s time to take them off your list. Finding the right college is about knowing who you are and letting yourself grow as an individual.

Posted on July 16, 2015 at 10:37 am

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