The college decision right now is weighing on the mind of a lot of high school seniors who approach the choice as the biggest one that they have ever made. It is a big weight on the shoulders of young adults. I would encourage these young people to ask some of the following questions:
1. Which is the right size college for me? (Do I thrive in a smaller setting where people get to know me or in a bigger place where I can just be a number and make my own way without direction?)
2. Which college offers the kind of classes I am most likely to be interested in and a variety of ones that I had no idea existed but that may open a new world to me?
3. What kind of community does the college create?
4. Does the college create a collaborative environment or a competitive one? Which one do I like better? Will the classes be small enough that I can get the attention I want (if I thrive on that)?
5. Does the college community extend beyond the four years? (This is where my alma mater Wellesley is so strong–it has been part of my life since my freshman year and it still is over twenty five years later!)
6. Will the college stretch me to become better or will it just let me stay in my comfort zone? (Part of getting an education I think is about stretching ourselves…)
7. What kind of living environment does the college provide? Does it suit my needs?
8. If I had a choice, how would I want to “grow”? What kind of person do I want to be? Will the college help me get there? How will it do that?
9. Will the college encourage me to have special experiences that are uniquely tailored to my interests? (For example, research opportunities, trips abroad and whatever you can think of)
I traveled from Italy to the US to come to college–it was a big leap. To the young people deciding right now, I invite you to know that you cannot go wrong. As long as you are willing to move forward and you are committed to improving yourself by making the best of your education, you will land in the right place. Good luck! May you soar beyond what you believe is possible.
Life is Amazing! Live well.
There is one set of questions that may get you a “sneak peek” into the answers of 3,5, 6,7,8,9. It is probably best answered by recent alumni or current students.
What is the mission statement of college/university? (Whether or not they know might tell you a lot!) How is it “lived out” by the faculty, administrators, and students? Does the mission statement reflect who you are or who you want to become? If there isn’t a well-defined or actively “lived” mission, do you find that freeing?
In my experience (at College of the Holy Cross), a mission statement that is thoughtfully implemented in all areas of student life – from orientation, to classes, to extracurriculars and ending at graduations – is a sturdy foundation for an enduring college community. The HC mission is something that continues to guide what I do today, and I believe that this shared guiding principle is what makes the HC alumni community distinct.
Ps. All of your questions are on the money! A final word of advice: there is no single college at which one can be happy…I firmly believe that college is what you make of it!