The College list is an integral part of the college application process and then you sophomores and juniors. The college list is something that causes a little bit of stress because there’s the pressure to look at very highly select schools. Most families tend to start off with more highly select schools on the visit because everybody’s excited to see them, but when in reality you ought to sit down and look at three main indicators of what is a good list. The first thing to think about of course, is selectively taking into account your GPA, the rigor of your coursework and standardized test scores. Most students can identify within reason which schools will be their reach schools, their target schools and their safety schools, and from this effort they would be able to then figure out of course, where to visit, how to then refine and identify program, etc.
One of the things that parents need to consider with regard to the college list is the emotional components that are going on behind the scenes that is pressure to get into a certain school is there, it is there all around us no matter what. So it’s important to mindfully communicate with your son or daughter how important it is that the work they’ve done has gotten them to the point where they have the ability to in many ways harvest a crop that they’ve planted long ago. And hopefully this journey with them should be fun when looking at US news and World Report and other indicators of selectivity start off with a list of 15 or 20 schools sometime in the sophomore year after PSAT. After the PSAT is the first time that a student has a quantitative measure of skills in conjunction with grades and rigor of transcript.
That combination can help you begin to identify a reasonable starting point from there over the next year. Depending on the student’s maturity, stress level and understanding of major, the family can begin doing college visits. These visits should be designed to help explore the concept of career major learning and how these things intersect. The idea of size of school and what the school has to offer after selectivity. The second major component of a college list is of course major and career major as a critical driver of admissions decisions for a few different reasons. One, while many different decisions for admission officers vary of course by geography and other factors such as the high school performance transcript, test scores, etc. Another really important component is all of that in the context of the student’s major and so what admission officer will do is look at the high school student performance in the context of his or her peers in a given major and that’s why this whole process of understanding day in the life, how a career intersects with major, how a school prepares one for a career.
All of these things are important things to explore. Often in high school there aren’t resources available to support students going on various field interviews to understand more about a given career and that’s why it’s important to reach out to additional resources. Whether it’s family, friends, college counselors to try to figure out what is it that you like, what is it that you’re good at and what is it that you have skills built around that would make sense when considering a given major. The other component of the college list as it relates to major is internship. Certain majors at the end of the coursework will allow students to take on certain internships where various employers are connected with the university or college. This is tremendously valuable after selecting which college. The second most important decision a student has to make will be which internship internships tend to connect students with potential employers that lead to jobs, whether at that place of employment or similar places of employment and therefore geography matters a lot.
Given your field if interested in finance, obviously a city like New York, Boston makes a lot of sense if interested in political science. Obviously a city like Washington D.C. makes a lot of sense if interested in film a city like New York or LA makes a lot of sense and that doesn’t mean schools outside of these areas should not be considered. They absolutely should. One thing to think about with a school is how geographic proximity plays a role in the internship availability, the experts and faculty that are available at that school to educate your son or daughter after selectivity and major and career. The third main factor would be the other characteristics that your son or daughter values. These characteristics can be things like urbanicity, size of school, class size, whether or not it has a contiguous campus or somehow interspersed within an urban location. These things matter less than the rest of the factors that have discussed so far in this video.
Ultimately, we want to make sure that our son or daughter is well-educated. Well-prepared for life and for a career. Things like the size of the campus, how pretty it is, should not be essential. It is important, but at the same time most students tend to enjoy their college experience and if they don’t, it is not due to necessarily the bucolic nature of the campus or lack thereof. What does matter though in terms of characteristics is class size. When parents ask us about what they’re looking for, what their son or daughter, one of the things that comes up is looking for, making sure they have individual attention, additional resources, particularly if your son or daughter has an IEP or 504 and one of the things that we always tell families is the size of the school and class size are not necessarily proportional to one another.
Many very large universities have even more resources than a smaller university and in the case of a specific major, often the class sizes are quite small, very large. Schools in a certain major may have class sizes that are even smaller than a small university because there are additional resources available. At a large university, additional resources are certainly available for students with 504 or IEP and or other learning differences that need additional remediation or support. So how do we make a decision based on characteristics? It’s really important for students to maintain perspective of the characteristics they student must use. Making decision about school, asking about major, asking about internships, asking about career counseling and how these things intersect and prepare them for life, prepare them for a career. These things ultimately matter. Most geography where the school is located, does matter what types of activities the student has to do outside of the campus.
Location does matter. When schools are located in a rural area without access to anything that a city might offer, that shapes the nature of the schooling. Perhaps that is what a student is seeking. On the other hand, if they’re looking for more of an urban experience, access to music, art and all that a city has to offer, that’s an important component of what a student must select. But ultimately when making a college list and we look at overall selectivity and we look at overall rigor of program and we look at how a particular program or major prepares a student for life and beyond and while college characteristics matter quite a bit, really it’s most important to look at overall selectivity and overall preparedness in a given career path. The reason for this is when a student is looking to get a job upon graduating, a given program can elevate his or her stature in the application pile for employment because of the nature of the program.
And obviously it lets not forget that the most important component of a college experience is shaping the student’s character and preparing him or her for life. That should not be lost in this overall discussion. The joy of learning, understanding what the world has to offer through the lens of college as a critical component as well. We should not lose sight of that, but when you have to take, but when you have to filter on all the different colleges and come up with a list and we have to filter on all 120 majors and narrow things down, it can be an arduous process and should require some thoughtful preparation. But with the right methodology and using some of what is written here, hopefully it’ll be a little bit of an easier process.