College in Perspective: Introduction

In this section we will present information for students and their families about how to think about the value of a college education. As you will find when you review our content, we are approaching this issue from two directions. We are attempting to make clear that it is of great value in our society to seek higher education. We discuss the educational, employment and personal gratification that flow from completing post-secondary education. At the same time, we are trying to buffer the anxiety and stress around overvaluing the “brand” of the college. We try to convey that, in general, there is not nearly as much impact or difference in employment and life satisfaction outcomes as people imagine in attending different colleges.

But, more importantly, we are trying to introduce and examine the idea of “goodness of fit” in college choice. It is our conviction that much of the academic failure and poor retention in US colleges actually stems from students who are struggling with emotional and psycho-social challenges and the first step to academic and personal success in college is choosing a school that is a good fit for the individual student.

What do we mean by “goodness of fit”?  It is very common in the college admissions process for advisers to tell their students that they should know themselves: consider their academic and (if they know them) their career interests and goals, students should think about their hobbies, athletic talents, and financial resources and challenges. But, we also want students to consider their emotional and personal proclivities. How have they done in the past with separations? This might help inform decisions about whether or not they should choose a school that is closer to home. Does the student like a busy, bustling setting with lots of stimulation and activity or a place that is quieter and more sedate? Is this someone who likes more independence or more active support?

We hope to get students and families to understand the importance of these personal considerations and at least factor them into their decision process. Read more about College in Perspective for Students and for Families. We hope that your school administration will help us in communicating both the importance of post-secondary education and the need to keep the choice of school in balance.

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