College Admissions: 4 Things to Do Before Saying “Yes”
Monday, March 28, 2011
Majors Offered and Course Availability
Some seniors will have a good idea of what they want to major in. If so, take a deeper dive into the courses offered, professor credentials, and internships or research opportunities. Remember that course catalogs are VERY deceiving. They usually contain every course taught in the last 5 years (or that may be taught in the next 5 years). It does not mean that those courses are taught every year (or even close to it). For a more accurate understanding of the classes that you will have to choose from in your major, call the department and ask for a course list for this year and next year. If you are a student who is undecided on a major, carefully consider the breadth of offerings at your potential colleges and make sure they line up with your interests.
Look at the Data
There are some important statistics that parents and students should review before choosing a college. These are readily available on websites like www.collegeboard.com or www.collegedata.com. The first one that I look at is “students returning for sophomore year” - this is a key indicator of how happy students are at a college and the support they receive. If a college has below a 70-75% return rate, I get concerned. The next data point I suggest you
The one published statistic that I find suspicious (and don’t put a lot of stock in) is “percent of students finding full-time employment within 12 months of graduation." Given the poor economy, I find the high numbers at many schools hard to swallow. Lastly, families should investigate the economic health of a college, including the endowment fund and state of the physical campus. In 2010, approximately 150 colleges in the U.S. failed the US Department of Education’s test of financial stability (which sets fairly low standards).
Beware of Student Review Sites and Gossip
The old adage “bad news travels faster than good news” is especially true with regard to colleges. So, please be wary of online sites that host bitter student reviews. Few happy students have the time or the inclination to go on and post a positive review. Also, take the gossip in your high school or neighborhood with a grain of salt when someone leaves a college. Look instead at the overall statistics; do not make a judgment based on one individual. For a great guide centered around hundreds of student surveys and interviews, I recommend The Insider's Guide to the Colleges by The Yale Daily News. It only reviews about 300 colleges and universities in the country, but it does a terrific job of giving insight into campus life, course rigor, professor access and the surrounding community.
Spend the Night
Finally, students should consider going for an overnight visit at their top choice college before accepting. The admissions office at most smaller colleges will help facilitate this, but at larger institutions, you may need to network with friends and family to find an existing student to host you for the night. This “real life” experience will give you a valuable feel for the flavor of the student body and even the quality of the classes and professors.
Cristiana Quinn, M.Ed. is the founder of College Admission Advisors, LLC which provides strategic, college counseling and athletic recruiting services for students. www.collegeadvisorsonline.com.
If you valued this article, please LIKE GoLocalProv.com on Facebook by clicking HERE.
- 5 College Tour Must-Sees
- College Admissions: 3 Hot Trends at Top Universities
- College Admissions: 3 Must-Knows for Athletic Scholarships
- College Admissions: 3 Reasons to Take a Gap Year
- College Admissions: 4 Tips for College Admissions Acceptance Month
- College Admissions: 5 Must-Knows About College Visits
- College Admissions: Inside Tips for Aspiring Pre-Meds