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The Right and Wrong Reasons for Selecting a College

[This article helps students understand the right and wrong reasons for selecting a college.]

As a college faculty member and administrator for more than a generation and the father of a college student, I have seen too many families choose colleges for the wrong reasons. Here are a few common mistakes students make in choosing a college:

1. My Friends Are Going There
College is an opportunity to meet new people and have learning experiences outside as well as inside of the classroom. Broaden your horizons and avoid the temptation to replicate your high school social circle in college.

2. I Like the Climate
Few relish cold weather, but you can do Club Med during your vacation time or following college. Your focus should be on a school’s academics. Moreover, it is not regional prejudice to observe that a disproportionate percentage of America’s strongest colleges are in the relatively cold northeast, upper mid-west, and northwest regions. Freeze now and thrive later!

3. They Have Great Sports Teams
As an ardent college sports fan this is a difficult one for me to concede, but college is an investment in the rest of your life and academic quality must be prioritized. Besides, every sporting event you could desire is only a click away on ESPN or on your computer.

4. It Is Cheaper Than Other Schools
While one must have a consciousness of finances, cheaper can often mean fewer student and faculty resources and academic inferiority. It may be in your interest to make a short-term financial sacrifice so you can go to a more expensive but better school. The payoff will be superior graduate school opportunities and better paying jobs for the rest of your life. Moreover, elite private schools have more generous financial aid programs than their less expensive public or private counterparts. You might even ultimately end up paying less.
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What should you look for in a college? A short list of factors would include student selectivity, faculty and student resources, retention and graduation rates, and average class size, all of which can be found in US News and World Report’s annual “Best Colleges” issue. Additional factors such as class size in your possible major, and placement rates in strong graduate programs and good jobs will require you to make inquiries with faculty and staff members.

Top Test Prep’s academic counselors can assist you in finding and getting into your top colleges, and its private tutors and admissions programs can assist you in your test preparation.

David Dickson is a counselor with Top Test Prep; Call (800) 501-7737 or visit Top Test Prep education and test prep programs.