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The World Explained In Plain English.
The World Explained In Plain English.
How to Choose the Right College

How to Choose The Right College: The Six Different Paths

  In layman's terms - There are six paths for students entering college. The student that chooses name recognition such as Harvard or Yale. The student that enters into a specialty college based on their talent. The student that focuses more on campus life. The student that chooses a school based on its size. The student who just wants to breeze through their courses. Finally, the student that searches for a great education for the least amount of money.


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 others are more flexible or need time to decide what they want from a school. No one path is better than the other. If you grew up dreaming of becoming a meteorologist or novelist, you could 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 at 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

Brand Name Colleges

The title says it all: A brand-name shopper is someone who cares about labels, whether it's Harvard or Wharton. 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 simply believe that the best way to get a return on their college investment is to choose a school with instant name recognition. 


Path #2: The Special Agent 

The Special Agent College Path

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 

The College Campus Environment & Vibe.

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 prioritizing the campus environment above all else in their college search. They absolutely know that they want to be in a particular type of school- a large urban university, a small rural college, or maybe they're huge sports fan who wants a school with a big, packed football stadium on game day. Atmospherists put the type and location of the school above all else in their college search. 


Path #4: The Sizeists 

College Classroom & Lecture Hall Size

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 alone than 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 

Colleges That Are Less Demanding

There are many different reasons that students don't get perfect grades in high school. Some could be straight-A students if they 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 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 

College Bargains

When skyrocketing tuition price tags and unprecedented levels of student debt, you do not have to live below the poverty line to be concerned about your college costs. Maybe you are a hard-working, middle-class student who does not want to graduate with mortgage-sized student loans before you even go on your first job interview. Perhaps 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.


For more layman's guide on navigating college & university visit the College section of our website.

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