Is the college search like this? Well, if the shoe fits........

by Gail Roberson —

Last week, I had dinner with a prospective student and her family. As I asked about her college search, her mom replied that it was a lot like trying on shoes—sometimes a pair just fits. In college shopping, like with shoes, we should give consideration to style, price, durability, and fit. You may find that more than one pair will work, but each offers something different.

Style: just like you wouldn’t run a marathon in heels, you wouldn’t choose a school that doesn’t support your interests. Does the college offer your major? Do they teach courses in the style in which you learn best? Will you have the college experience that you are seeking? Finding a school that will support your goals is an important first step in narrowing your search.

Durability: the quality of an institution is a difficult concept to gauge. We assume that all schools will ‘last,’ but which will guide us to where we need to go? Look at the opportunities and investments at schools. What are the teacher/student ratios and relationships? What is the four-year graduation rate? Ask about internship opportunities and job placement. What safety nets are in place for the transition between high school and college learning? Determine if you will be able to navigate this environment successfully.

LeeRoy the Tiger takes part in spirit rally.
Price: sticker price is not the same as actual price. A more expensive school may offer a ‘red tag’ discount through their financial aid offer that matches the price of a less expensive school. Once you receive the final financial aid awards, do a side-by-side comparison to determine the out of pocket costs for each institution. Make sure that you also consider value—the price beyond the bottom dollar.

Fit: just like with shoes, you need to try it on. No one else can tell you how well a shoe fits and likewise with colleges. Campus visits are crucial. Take a tour of campus, talk with students, meet with faculty, and ask too many questions.

As you finalize your college search, make sure that you’ve fully researched and considered each option. Once you’ve decided, pull on those new shoes and start walking. Remember, the shoes don’t get us to our destination, but if we pick the right pair, we might be able to avoid blisters!

About Gail

Gail Roberson is director of Admissions for Houston Recruitment at Trinity University.


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