16 Apr 2019

The College Admissions Scandal and Choosing a College

The college admissions scandal has been all over the news. College coaches and celebrity parents have been arrested for giving and accepting bribes to admit students to top colleges. While this is despicable, we need to take it into perspective. Yes, it is unfair to the rest of us, but colleges have always taken many things into consideration in addition to students’ accomplishments. Colleges typically allow significant space for legacies and athletes and strive for diversity in many ways. (In a recent episode of The Simpsons, showing the future, the Harvard admissions counselor accepts Lisa because they need someone from her state.) This means that for many students, it is exceptionally difficult to get in. The top colleges receive so many applications from so many qualified students that they have to make choices one way or another. If you don’t get in, you should not take it personally. You do not need to go to Harvard or Stanford to be successful in life. In fact, there are many colleges that offer a superb education and would be a good fit.
Here are some factors to consider when choosing a college:

  1. Academic rigor – Some students prefer a college that challenges them and requires a lot of hard work. Other students prefer more of a balance, a moderate work load, and more time for extra-curricular activities and a part-time job.
  2. Affordability – Do not be scared away by the sticker price of private schools and limit choices to state colleges. Many private colleges offer generous financial aid packages that can bring the cost of college down to be similar to state colleges, even if you don’t qualify for Federal aid. In addition, many students receive merit aid, and colleges take SAT or ACT scores and grade point averages into account when determining the amount awarded.
  3. Location – Do you want to be driving distance to home or a plane ride away? If you get a mileage credit card, many of those trips can be free.
  4. Size – Do you prefer a large, medium, or small school? Do you want an environment that thrives on Greek life?
  5. Concentration – if you already have career goals, look for a college that is strong in those areas.
  6. Internships – many colleges have strong summer internship connections that can help with crucial resume building and experience. A few of these colleges even pay students for unpaid internships.

Most important is what you do with your college experience. If you work hard, go there to learn as well as obtaining a degree, take advantage of opportunities to do research with professors and work at meaningful jobs and internships, and remain focused on your career goals, you can be successful wherever you go.

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