Choosing Your Own College Adventure

Choosing Your Own College Adventure

Which Category Do You Fit Into?

Finding your dream university is like finding a great doctor, personal trainer, or significant other: it’s all about compatibility. Some students start the college search process with strong, clear priorities, while other are more flexible or need time to decide what the want from a school. No one path is better than the other. If you grew up dreaming of becoming a meteorologist or novelist, you can find the best college to get you on track. If you have no idea what you want to do with your life, do not panic it takes time. High school students today are bombarded with media stories about how valedictorians and class presidents are being turned away from colleges in record numbers. If you are not the top of your class, you might find yourself having regular nightmares about college rejection letters. There are six different paths to finding the perfect school for you.

Path #1: The Brand-Name shopper

The title says it all: brand-name shopper is someone who cares about labels whether it’s Howard University or Spelman. When it comes to choosing a college, brand-name shoppers prioritize a college’s name recognition and prestige over things like size, location, and the school’s particular academic departments Brand name shoppers are not necessarily superficial people; they simple believe that the best way to get a return of their college  investment is to choose a school with instant name recognition. 

Path #2: The Special Agent

LeBron James, Bill Gates, and Lady Gaga all have one thing in common- they each identified a passion early on in life. While these people are cultural icons, you do not have to be a prodigy to have a passion. We all know people who profess that they were “born to be” something- the chef who grew up helping her mother in the kitchen or the doctor who loved volunteering at a hospital in high school. These people identified their dreams early and never deviated from that path. Similarly, the special agent is someone who approaches the college search with a clear, focused goal.

Path #3: The Atmosphere

Aesop told a famous fable about the country mouse and the city mouse, describing how each mouse is suited to its particular environment. If they were high school students looking at colleges, these mice would be a great example of atmospherists, who prioritize the campus environment above all else in their college search. They absolutely know that they want to be in a certain type of school- a large urban university like Hampton university; a small rural college like Benedict college,  or maybe their a huge sports fan who wants a school with a big, packed football stadium on game day like South Carolina State University. Atmospherists put the type and location of the school above all else in their college search.

Path #4: The Sizeists

As the name implies, sizeists are students who emphasize the size of the school in their college search. Sizeists know that they learn the best in a particular type of classroom. Do you learn more and get better grades in classes where you have a relationship with your professor? Do you respond to professors who are more involved in giving you feedback? Do you find class discussion especially rewarding?  If you answered yes to any of these questions you might benefit from a small college that promotes seminar-style classes taught by professors. Do you learn more from reading textbooks on your own than you do from being in a classroom? Do you hate talking in class or think that group discussions can be a waste of time? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you might prefer a large university with lectures that encourages students to be independent learners.

Path #5: The Chill Pill

There are many different reasons that students don’t get perfect grades in high school. Some could probably be straight A students if they really tried, but they have neither the drive nor the discipline to get perfect grades in every course. Others struggle in certain subjects like math or English but do well in classes they genuinely enjoy. Then there are the students who have to work hard and put in a little extra hours to get B’s. For whatever reason good grades just do not come easily to them. These students-the chill pills- are better suited to colleges with less demanding, more supportive academic environments. When it comes to stress, less is more for them.

Path #6: The Bargain Hunter

When skyrocketing tuition price tags and unprecedented levels of student debt, you do not have to be living below the poverty line to be concerned about your college costs. Maybe you are hard working, middle-class student who does not want to graduate with mortgage-sized student loans before you’ve even gone on your first job interview. Maybe you know that you want to go to graduate school and would like your education budget to stretch beyond the four years it takes to get a bachelor’s degree. Maybe you are a millionaire who would prefer a college that offers a good education at a reasonable price tag. Whatever the circumstance, students that put costs at the top of their college search criteria can be considered bargain hunters.