The top five things to look for when searching for colleges

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The top five things to look for when searching for colleges

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I like students and families to start very broad when they start looking for colleges, to really start at the macro level and winnow down from there. So consider some things such as geographic region, perhaps. Or large public universities versus small private ones. Maybe do you want to be in a city or a suburb or a really rural section. Those are good ways for families to start this process and to think about overall, what are they looking for. Then there are some other things in colleges that are really important that maybe we don't naturally think about or even give credence to. Obviously if a student is really interested in a particular area, a couple particular areas, it's a good idea to see if a college offers those. So you know, I want to go to school in the Midwest. Maybe look at some Midwestern colleges and look to see if they have good departments in the area the student wants to major in. There are some other things that colleges offer that are, that we might think of as sort of the fun stuff that can be really important as well. Many students want to go to a school that has a big-time football program. They love the idea of going and sitting in a stadium with 10s of 1000s of people and cheering on their team. Or they want to go to a school that has a really strong Greek system where they can rush for their fraternity or sorority. Or maybe they want to go to a school that has a really good program that sends students overseas, maybe a junior year abroad or a semester abroad. So these are all good things for kids to be thinking through as they look at different schools because different schools are much different from each other in these areas. The other thing I think is really important for students and their parents to be thinking about is outcomes. We hear a lot about what colleges to apply to in terms of their selectivity or SAT scores of kids that get in there, that sort of thing. But what we're looking at when we look at those sort of things is we're looking at inputs. We're looking at things that go into the school. What we should be perhaps focused a little more on is what comes out. Let's look at, do they have a good career counseling program that's going to maybe follow a graduate from that university for years or even decades to find jobs. Do they publish job success rates? Do they tell you what percent of their graduates are employed 6 months, one year, 5 years out from graduation? Do they talk maybe about the number of students who come in as pre-med and come out going to medical school? These are all things that are important to focus on and they're really the things that are perhaps most important in terms of a career. What does a student leave college able to do as opposed to what are they able to do when they arrive at college?

See Robert K. Cooke, MEd's video on The top five things to look for when searching for colleges...

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Robert K. Cooke, MEd

Upper School Director

Robert has been in K-12 education for thirty years; for sixteen years he was a high school history and social studies teacher, teaching subjects such as AP US History, Western Civilization, World History, Economics, and Anthropology. His school administrative career has been equally varied, serving as Director of Activities at a large public high school, and a Middle School Director and Upper School Director at independent (private) schools in the Midwest and California. Robert earned his Bachelor's Degree in History from Carleton College, and his Master's in Education from Claremont Graduate University. He is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS), and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD). Robert has served on school accreditation teams in the Midwest and California. He has two children, one of whom is an acting and English Literature double major at a large urban university on the East Coast, while the other is a high school junior in Los Angeles.

 

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