My uncle, George Cornelius, has a new blog called Finding My College:
This blog is about helping students succeed in life. For those attending college, your prospects will be enhanced if you attend the right college and, more importantly, avoid attending the wrong college. Finding a college that is a good fit for you isn’t as easy as it sounds. Yet it’s not that hard if you know what to look for and know what to ignore. That’s what this blog is about.
George apparently knows something about being successful in life since, while I can't claim him as a blood relative, based on my mother's genealogical research, by conventional measures he's the most successful member of my extended family going back a couple hundred years, perhaps back to caveman times since it gets increasingly unlikely to find CEO's of multinational countries, cabinet secretaries and college presidents. He also does pretty well by less title-driven measures, although that makes multi-generational ranking more difficult.
Anyhow, I've found George offers good advice over the years, and perhaps you will too. He's also finishing a book on the same subject as his blog.
He's covering both policy, as in this recent op-ed:
Our colleges and universities should be pressed to reveal more about themselves and their performance. They should conspicuously publicize the results of their critical learning assessment tests and other measures of students’ intellectual advancement and career preparedness (or lack thereof). Four-year graduation rates should be conspicuously posted on admission websites. Meaningful student-debt data should be shared, in lieu of the misleading averages that are oft-times cited, which not only can be (and are) easily manipulated but also can hide the fact that many students carry huge debt loads. Finally, job placement and salary data for recent graduates, by academic major, should be gathered and shared with prospective students and parents.
The College Scorecard recently promulgated by the U.S. Department of Education is a baby step in the right direction, but it falls well short of what is needed.
For any society serious about staying competitive and fostering economic growth in this information and technology driven age, there is nothing “discretionary” about postsecondary education and training. Moreover, a system that under-performs and saddles people with crushing debt is in no one’s interest.
And more pragmatic concerns for prospective students:
If you’ve decided to attend a residential college and are intending to live on campus, be mindful that not all residential colleges are the same. Beware that some are suitcase colleges, that is, colleges that empty out on weekends. You should avoid a suitcase college unless you’re a day-student or intend to go home every weekend (which, generally, isn’t a good idea if you’re serious about your academic work and maximizing your college experience).
Also handy lists are good for a new blog:
Here’s my top 10 list of mistakes prospective students commonly make when choosing their college:
- Putting too much weight on the campus visit
- Underestimating the costs and failing to have an adequate financial plan
- Failing to consider colleges farther from home, including out-0f-state
- Ignoring the job and graduate school placement records
- Overlooking the four-year graduation rates
- Failing to consider the quality of specific academic programs
- Ignoring important curricular and program issues
- Failing to consider the intern and co-op programs
- Giving rankings too much or not enough credence
- Failing to consider all the implications of the location