Spring is in full swing, and while we all appreciate the glimpses of warmer weather and the flowers in bloom, it can also be an anxious time for certain people. Many teens and students (as well as their parents and advisors) know that April is usually “decision time” when it comes to college admission. Students have sent in their applications, schools have sent out acceptance letters, and although there may be some disappointments, the time has come to make the final call. Where will they call home for the next four years, setting the stage for the rest of their lives?
This week, we are addressing the major, life-altering decision of choosing a college to help your grad feel equipped and confident with their final choice. In this blog you will learn about the key final selection factors and how to actually make the call at crunch time.
Here are the key factors to consider when choosing the best fit among good candidates:
Consider the environment, culture, and values of this institution. Is it a good fit for you? Does it align with who you are?
Can you picture yourself living here for the next four years?
How comfortable would you be with “fitting in?”
Will the size and location (city, state) bring out your best? (Think about what you prefer: larger or smaller, bustling big city or quieter, suburban area.)
During your campus visit, how friendly and positive were the students and staff with whom you interacted?
College is very expensive, and costs vary dramatically from institution to institution.
Remember to factor in the cost of graduate school, too, if you plan on attending. This may argue for a more reasonably priced undergraduate school.
Develop a four-year budget for every school you’re considering and compare costs.
Consider regular expenses (room and board, food, books, etc.) as well as the expected travel costs during visits to home (if you go to school out of state) and the average cost of living in that area.
Seek out scholarships and consider all financial aid packages.
With your investment of time and money, you need to assess the valueof a degree from each institution. Higher cost does not necessarily mean better quality! This is an easy mistake to get caught up in.
What is the reputation of the university AND the major/program you might be considering?
What are the institution’s rankings?
What’s the availability of majors and courses you are interested in?
Will your courses be taught primarily by professors or TAs?
What are the student return rates for the second year, as well as graduation rates at the university?
Do you know the expected class sizes? Will you be a name or a number?
What is their commitment to, and effectiveness of, their job placement program to help students land positions after they graduate? What percent of graduates in general, and in the majors of interest, land a full-time job in their major after graduation? What other training/support (e.g., resume writing, interview skills, major/career surveys, internship programs, job fairs, on-campus recruitment, navigation for job searching) are students offered?
What other programs, activities, and extracurriculars are offered that may be of interest?
This decision is a major one, and it may keep some of you up at night! After weighing all of the above information, here a few final action steps to selecting the best overall choice:.
If you haven’t visited the final few, do so if at all possible. There is no substitute for an on-site feel of universities. In some cases, you may want to visit the final few again, if that’s feasible.
If possible, talk with current students and graduates to hear about their firsthand experiences.
Develop a list of pros and cons for each finalist school (even if it’s only two). This, together with the preceding rankings, may lead to one choice standing out from the crowd.
Resist peer influences. No one knows you or your preferences like you. Make the decision that’s right for you, helped by a thorough and objective review!
There you have it. We hope all students (and their parents) find this helpful as they navigate one of the biggest decisions of “adulthood” to date! As always, share this with the future college students and parents in your life, in hopes that this process will become more seamless and clear for all.
Are you considering new ways to set up YOUR students for success—in school and beyond?
Increasingly, employers and universities are encouraging greater development of the “soft skills” necessary for success in college, career, and life, such as:
Sense of purpose/strategic perspective
Character, integrity, and work ethic
Successful relationship-building, communication, and teamwork
An attitude of empowerment, not entitlement
This is why schools across the nation are choosing our innovative and comprehensive What I Wish I Knew at 18 Leadership and Life Skills curriculum to help their students build a personal leadership foundation. Here’s what they’re saying:
“The (WIWIK@18) book and student guide have had a great impact on my students. … (helping) them to look ahead and have a vision of success. …They truly are becoming more successful socially and academically. I would highly recommend this curriculum to other teachers.”
Patty Rogers—Family and Consumer Science/Personal Finance Teacher:
“While teaching Personal Finance this year, I was able to use this great resource to enrich the content of this course. Every Family and Consumer Sciences teacher should have a classroom set. Students enjoy this book and their comments are always positive!”
Pam Wickman—Family & Consumer Science Teacher:
“I have made great use of What I Wish I Knew at 18 in my classroom, including it in a variety of classes, such as Parents and Children, Individual and Family Relationships, and Life on your Own. My students respond well to the teen-friendly language of the text, and the accompanying workbook includes questions and writing topics that inspire useful discussion and written reflection. Trittin’s book has become a valued resource, and one I turn to often.”
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I am so impressed with this curriculum. The information is timeless and so “down to earth.” I like how you can pick up the book, and go to the chapter you need. You don’t have to read the book in any order—just take what you need to share these life lessons with students. For a limited time
We areoffering bulk pricing discounts nowfor our book and curriculum so you can plan and order for next semester’s – and next year’s – classes.
As I was enjoying a much needed three-day weekend, my mind drifted to three recent conversations relevant to Labor Day. I was reflecting on how the world is becoming smaller and increasingly competitive. And, on how we have to raise the bar just to stay even.
When I considered who are best positioned to answer this question, two groups immediately came to mind: employers of young people and school counselors. After all, they’re the respective “consumers” of the nation’s schools and the “focal points” in guiding our students.
And, to a person, they’re concerned and discouraged.
The manager of a coffee shop who teaches “tech ed” at high school vented about the lacking social skills and work ethic of his employees and students and their “entitlement mentality.” He faces an uphill battle because parents are routinely feeding these attitudes, both at work and school—last minute absentee calls and flak over any grade short of an “A.” Even nasty calls to employers and professors when their children don’t get the promotion or grades they “deserved!”
A veteran school counselor shared how the first week has already had its share of student disrespect and parental entitlement issues. Regrettably, this is consistent with a survey of school counselors I conducted a few months ago. Student apathy, “entitlement mentality,” and lack of parental support were among the top five issues they cited…all as the world grows more competitive.
Juxtapose this with a conversation I had with a determined Indonesian high school student after my talk “Developing the Great Leaders of Tomorrow” during my book launch tour.
“Mr. Dennis,” he said, “I’m not as smart at academics as I’d like to be. But, can I still become a great leader?” He gets it. It’s not just about book smarts. It’s about life smarts—without entitlements.
All of us—parents, schools, politicians, and media/culture drivers have a stake in reversing this trend. That means honoring and modeling hard work and ethics and preparing young people for a life that isn’t always fair. It means teaching that failure is part of life and self-esteem is something best earned. It means that as parents, our value isn’t defined by a perfect performance from our children, but whether they are people of excellence who strive to do their best.
So, now that Labor Day is over, it’s time to get to work…on this!
What are your observations about work ethic in young adults these days … good and bad? What are your suggestions for helping to diminish an entitlement mentality and develop an appreciation for and commitment to personal reponsibility and industriousness? We’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions!