As I explained in a previous post, I recently asked a group of friends and acquaintances about their experiences in selecting a college or university.
Below, a graduate of Rhodes University in Memphis recounts how she chose her college.
“I followed the money. When looking at schools, I sought out schools that had good reputations for liberal arts and hands-on instruction. Although I was accepted to my top picks, I ultimately chose the school that offered me the most money, even though it was at the bottom of my list.
Was this a good choice? It’s hard to say. I do believe that students should ultimately follow their gut instinct, but I also think that college is what you make of it. I knew that I could survive anywhere, so it was the right decision for me to get a quality education for a good price. If tuition was not a concern, I would have chosen the school that I felt best complemented my personality, learning style and interests. (And I probably would have had a more positive collegiate experience.)
I suggest to students that they pick a dealbreaker quality. What one thing is most important to them? Be it cost, location, course offerings, etc. Then eliminate all schools that don’t fulfill the qualifications of their dealbreaker. What is left is generally a short list, so then I suggest that they trust their instincts and pick the school that feels right and fulfills their key requirement.”
This correspondent went on to pursue two graduate degrees, and is now an information specialist and reference librarian in Memphis.
Her strategy is an excellent one, and one that many students and parents don’t consider. There are literally thousands of colleges in the US, and hundreds of excellent ones. If money is a consideration, build your college list around that principal criterion. Many colleges are willing to pay top dollar (by giving substantial tuition discounts and scholarships) to well-qualified applicants.
Do NOT sell yourself short. If you have talents and academic abilities, be prepared to show them off during the admissions process. And depending on the audience for whom you are prepared to show off, you may get money thrown at you!