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Trying On For Size

The internet is filled with college searchers, finders, matchers and comparers. Just type in a few pieces of statistical data, and your perfect college list emerges! But does it? While websites can provide valuable information, let's remember that statistics alone can't fully represent either the college or the applicant. Just to take three examples:

  • Class Size: This can be one of the most misleading statistics, because many people don't really understand statistics! The average class size means nothing to an individual student. You have to explore the sizes of the classes you are likely to take. Intro to Biology is likely to be huge; first-year Russian is likely to be small. Moreover, you may prefer different class sizes for different subjects. "Film in America" in a large lecture hall could be fun, while you want your philosophy seminar to be more intimate.

  • Financial Aid: Merit scholarships attract many people looking to pay for a private education. But be sure you understand how the financial aid office's decisions impact your experience on campus. Merit aid for some can mean that others are not able to attend, reducing the economic diversity of campus. If you are the recipient of a lot of merit aid, you need to be comfortable knowing 90% of the people you will meet on campus were admitted with lower grades and test scores than you.

  • Athletics: Aspiring athletes need to research their specific sport to gauge whether they are likely to be recruited or make the team. Everyone can look at campus culture to find out whether the football team is a particular source of pride. But the overall percentage of athletes on campus is a figure both groups should pay attention to. That number can provide clues to questions like How pervasive is the athletic culture? Are there other ways in which community is developed on this campus? Are so many athletes so consumed with their sports that other extra-curriculars get short shrift? The athletic fields may or may not be close to the classrooms, but the influence of sports on campus touches every student.

Ultimately, the quick statistical approach can tell you only so much. If you are looking for a more personal touch in developing a great college list, give me a call at 847-660-8625 or click the “Contact Me” button at the bottom of the page.

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