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Allen Grove

Frank Bruni's "How to Choose a College"

By January 5, 2013

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Today's New York Times has a fabulous op-ed by Frank Bruni on choosing a college. I couldn't agree with his advice more: don't give too much weight to the national rankings; push yourself and don't settle for a school that feels too safe and familiar; look for a school that will expand your experiences and introduce you to people who aren't mirror images of yourself. Read Bruni's op-ed here: How to Choose a College. It's worth a few minutes of your time.

As a little anecdotal evidence, my own college choice was an uncomfortable one. I moved from a homogenous high school in Upstate New York to a bustling international university in a city. My campus visit was interesting but felt foreign, and the dominant emotion I experienced on move-in day was terror. Looking back, my college choice was one of the best decisions I've ever made. By forcing myself out of the bubble I had lived in for 18 years, I'm convinced that I learned far more than I would have at a college that had initially felt familiar and comfortable.

As you think about the "fit" of a college, be careful not to confuse a good fit with an environment that will fail to challenge you. A good fit isn't the school that coddles who you are now; it's the school that will transform you into the person you want to become.


February 22, 2013 at 2:57 pm
(1) Susan says:

I have 3 kids, and one is senior who has been accepted to 4 colleges/universities so far.

The key word is when you said looking back you were glad you made that decision. These are kids! They don’t have the ability to look back! They want to be comfortable. If its a large University and they are not able to cope and be successful, are they failures? Being eighteen is very young to expect so much. They don’t want to solve the world’s problems just yet. They need and want to figure out who they are. The Big Universities aren’t always the answer. Some thrive in smaller more personal colleges/universities where they can learn and not be so overwhelmed. Most young people need a few more years to grow up and feel good in their skin. So, I disagree with you completely.

January 1, 2014 at 8:05 pm
(2) Jim says:

I, on the other hand could not agree with you more. A student with the foresight to see the person he *wants* to be, and takes the comensurante steps is the student that a. will survive and b. will achieve his goals.
Right on.

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