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. This account comes from Jason Schaltz, an IT consultant for CGI. He attended New York University.
“For me, I chose the best place for what I wanted to study. I first wanted to get into finance somehow, so I searched out the best undergrad schools for finance. I went to all the ranking websites and such and eventually New York University made it to my first choice.
There was some other great things about it, I love living in the city and I thought it would be a great place for internships and jobs, but the main reason for picking it was because it was one of the best schools for what I wanted to learn. I eventually changed my major to management and decided to get into consulting, but luckily, it was good for that too. I am very happy with my choice, no regrets whatsoever.
Anyway, I think the best thing to do, if you can afford it, is to actually visit the colleges you are looking at and do the tour thing there, but take what they say with a grain of salt, they are trying to sell the school after all. After you do that, go around and find kids on campus and ask them what they’re studying and how they like the place. They will probably be happy to tell you and won’t give you any BS.
For more unbaised reviews, try this website, CollegeProwler.com. It was pretty accurate for NYU.”
Jason points to the fact that schools are businesses, even if they are also supposedly serving the public good by educating new generations of young people. He suggests cutting through all the hype generated by the admissions office (a.k.a. the “sales and marketing” office) by talking to actual “customers” of the university. As a consumer of educational services, students need to learn to do their own research, to cut through the malarkey, and learn for themselves whether the “service provider” (or, the college) provides what the student wants and needs.
As Jason also points out, there are some good resources available to help students in their research. But often, with so many colleges and universities to choose from (and research!), it often makes sense for students and their families to turn to an expert to at least help them narrow down the list. That is one of the primary functions of an independent educational consultant.