Is Selectivity Important in Choosing a College?
One of the worst reasons for choosing a college is selectivity. A school is neither “good” nor “great” because it denies admissions to the vast majority of students who apply. Choosing a college by how many people they reject would be like judging the quality of a car by the opportunity to jump the wait list by paying the dealer over list price.
Every time I speak with a parent or student about the process of choosing a college, I ask them to answer four questions whenever they visit a school:
- How has a school treated you in terms of customer service? Do you believe that faculty and staff answered your questions honestly? If money is an issue do you believe that you have a good sense of whether there will be enough financial assistance available through a full college education, not just the freshman year?
- Will this school set a student on an academic direction as early as possible? Some schools, small and large alike, do an excellent job in working with undecided students. Or they get those committed to a major quickly to work in the subjects of greatest interest. Other schools do not place as much emphasis on student success. A school is doing a great job in this area when it retains the vast majority of its freshman class and does not need to worry about losing students. A great school commits to guiding their students to graduation.
- Will this school allow a student to test that academic direction? Many schools will arrange internships or other types of employment for credit or pay or will encourage students to do independent research (sometimes funded with a grant or stipend) or work with faculty.
- Will this school provide a student with a network for life? Students enter college hoping to make friends, but as they get further into their education they hope to make more connections that will help them in their career or personal life.
None of these four questions about choosing a college have anything to do with selectivity. I have my reasons for this:
- Before you visit any school assess your chances of gaining admission.
- When the profiles of admitted students are different, selectivity means nothing.
- If finances are a serious issue, consider schools that are more accommodating on price.
- It’s very silly to rank colleges on the basis of the percentage of students they reject.
There’s so much emphasis on “getting in” to college these days, as opposed to making an informed decision about choosing a college, and that really bothers me. True, colleges are concerned with their image and perceived reputation. But their students, their customers, base their opinions on how well their school tries to help them.
Need help on the journey to college? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 609-406-0062.
Want to know more about me? Check out these podcasts!
Listen to my talk, College Is A Learning AND Living Community, hosted by Dr. Cynthia Colon from Destination YOUniversity on Voice of America Radio!
Listen to my talk, What Exactly Is a Good College? hosted by test-prep experts Amy Seeley and Mike Bergin on Tests And The Rest!