There are several logistical factors that go into choosing a school before you start even talking about fit. Included in those are: cost and location. These are the first two topics that I suggest parents to focus on when discussing options for college prior to diving into the nitty gritty. These can really be deal breakers when it comes to making the decision as a family in which colleges/universities to apply to. This is also the time to consider application to some schools that might be out of geographical or financial reach because they are such great opportunities that you’d like to test out the waters (see what financial aid package comes through or make a visit or two to Colorado?) prior to making a final decision to rule it out.
Ok, the next section is the nitty gritty I mentioned above – it’s about fit. What type of college, surrounding, environment will help you thrive and accomplish your future goals – that’s fit. There are a ton of components to fit and what will be the “best” college to help you thrive. First consider the items below and what your preferences might be.
You now have a good idea of what types of schools you should be looking at. Coupled with your test scores and school grades/ranking, you have a good idea of where you will fit on the spectrum. For students looking to be at a more competitive or rigorous school, you might consider taking this information to the ranking reports and see which schools might be a good fit. Others might use a resource like...
...to narrow down on small class sizes, large campuses, or programs with a lot of academic support services.
Okay, I know that feels a bit backward because I haven’t yet talked about a good academic match. Well that’s because for the majority of students don’t have a really specific niche yet and that’s because many students haven’t experienced enough to know what they don’t know about the opportunities in careers in the world. For the majority of students, I’d recommend having a general idea of the industry or job function you’d like to go into after college and narrow down the application list to those that have that type of program available (think broad: marketing = marketing, psychology, sociology; business = applied math, economics, business; teaching = child development, psychology, education).
If in the rare case you are one of those high school juniors/seniors that knows what they want to be – the above list is still something to think about, but you may want to apply the thought topics to list of schools that already exists for your specialized interest (music conservatories/colleges, programs with strong pre-med or combined degree programs, business schools, etc).
The next step after creating a solid list (the usual is between 7-12 schools) is visiting them (if you haven’t already) and making sure the schools are diversified in terms of possibilities for acceptance (reach schools vs match schools).
Good luck in finding a few great choices for your best fit!
Choosing to concentrate in Natural Science for my undergraduate degree was not a difficult conclusion to arrive at. I’ve always had a fascination with all living things and grew up with a whole host of pets from tortoises to parakeets. I enjoyed Biology very much in school, did reasonably well and it felt to me like the most natural progression to continue doing what I enjoyed most at college level.
The more difficult question to field was when asked what I wanted to do with a degree in Natural Science. I used to envy my friends who chose more conventional paths – you become an engineer after an engineering degree and a doctor after a medical one. Although it might seem blindingly obvious that the conclusion of a science degree would be to become a ‘scientist,’ I had no idea what scientists actually do minus the crazy-haired, wild-eyed ones I saw on television bent on world-domination. And like every good college student, you ignore the problems you cannot answer and promise to ‘look into it’ some other time. And so I did, and looking back, I am quite thankful as it gave me the time and the freedom to actually enjoy the degree.
Although I did eventually end up becoming a ‘scientist’ of some sort, many of my friends did not. We went to the same dissection classes, the same microscopy workshops but many chose career paths that do not involve safety goggles and lab coats. Some became management consultants, putting the analytical skills they learnt in class to good use in the corporate world. Others joined the civil service, taking positions that involved structuring science policy in schools and universities. And there were others who decided to go to graduate school, eventually deciding that they wanted a career in medicine or law.
Others, like myself, chose to pursue a doctoral degree in the sciences, spending much of our time dedicated to full-time research with the final aim of providing a body of research which is novel and of intellectual value to the academic community. In real world terms, this actually accumulates to a lot of thinking, reading and talking to people about science. I discovered that I thoroughly enjoyed the process of identifying a relevant problem, thinking of the right questions to ask, designing the experiments to answer these questions and finally, to look at the answers and decide whether they are relevant to support your conclusion. Looking back, I guess it was not too big a surprise as I have always enjoyed observing nature in motion, be it the neighbors pets or the metabolism of a cancer cell.
So I was fortunate that I did eventually, find out what to do with my science degree. But what might you be able to do with yours?
There probably isn’t a single right answer for this, but I think the most accurate one is probably, anything you want! Choosing a major is declaring your interest at that point in time, with a strong conviction that you will be motivated to make the most out of it. Certainly do not take it to mean that you are bound to it. While there are very many science-related careers that might benefit from a science degree, there are as many or not more that are less conventional yet as relevant to using the skills you learnt in science. Having a trained scientific mind is an asset to be reckoned with. Science is driven by a curiosity to ask the simple questions about everyday occurrences and the tenacity to find a hypothesis to describe these observations consistently. These qualities are extremely valuable in any field and I strongly believe that if nothing else, my degree definitely taught me to never stop asking questions.
Go to college focused but with an open mind. Pursue what interests you most in the present and never stop talking to people about what they want for the future while thinking about your own. Take the time to ask yourself what you are good at and what to improve on. It’s what I did and hopefully, you too will arrive at the same conclusion as I did on what to do with your science degree.
Starting a company is never a straight forward endeavor. The one thing that was extremely clear cut among the 3 founders was the mission of the company. The three of us have an immigrant background and came to the United States in pursuit of a system that valued meritocracy. While the United States definitely upholds meritocracy, we have come to acknowledge the sheer luck and privilege it requires to get in to top schools. We decided that we wanted it to be our mission to level the college admissions playing field.
The benefits that privilege bring start way beyond the time the application process starts. From personal tutors, to being a legacy applicant, the setbacks to those not in the 1% are numerous. The disparity between the have and have-nots are even more pronounced when it comes to the application process. Kids who can afford it fly around the country to visit schools. They send out multiple applications without any regard to application fees. Parents send their kids to private schools that have multiple counselors swarming all over their applications or pay tens of thousands of dollars for celebrity college admissions consultants.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with utilizing all the resources you have to put yourself in the best position possible. That said, it does put others at a disadvantage which is what we hope to remedy at Lucent.
We worry about two things. First, that people who do not have those resources give up on attending top schools before applying. Second, that people who have limited resources will turn out worse applications because they lack the funds or network to get coaching, feedback, and support.
The first issue of giving up without trying, we try to remedy by telling stories of unlikely candidates who made it to top schools. We also give out scholarships to prospective students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Very often, we do free consultation sessions with people.
The second issue of resources limiting access to help, we solve by splitting up our services in to multiple segments of the admissions process. Within the admissions process, most people are great at some things and not so great at others. There is absolutely no reason for you to pay someone to do something you are already great at! Therefore, by breaking up the process in to pieces, you only purchase help for parts where you are not confident. Instead of paying $20,000 for services you didn’t need, you end up paying $2,000 to focus on where you really needed help.
It sounds cliché, but we really care about getting you in to the best school you possibly can.
We hope that this article gives you a glimpse in to the minds of the people at Lucent Education and we look forward to helping you get in to your dream school.
College, Graduate School, and Career Coaching.