In Part One, we talked about why fit was important. Now, we're going to talk about how one finds a good fit.
Unlike James Bond in the picture above, finding the right fit for college isn't as simple as calling a tailor. As a matter of fact, you don't really need to call anybody except yourself. To find a good fit requires you ask yourself these questions:
1. Why am I going to college in the States to begin with? Education? Prestige?
2. Will I feel more comfortable simply blending into the crowd and being anonymous or will I get lost in such a place and prefer to be in a more intimate learning environment?
3. What is my learning style? Lectures? Active participation in class?
4. What is most important to me in college? Social life? Intellectual growth? Job opportunities?
There are any number of these kinds of questions you should be asking yourself as you take this important (and expensive!) step in your life. Consult with people you trust: your parents, older siblings and even you high school counselor to help you with your self-evaluation.
Teens don't enjoy self-examination (few people actually do) but it's time well spent to know yourself as well as you can. Always remember: there's no such thing as a best college out there only a best college FOR YOU.
As a former high school teacher, I'm often asked by students: what is the best college out there? Is Ateneo better than La Salle? Kids always hear: it depends on what you're studying...if business, then Ateneo, if engineering, maybe La Salle. It goes on and on.
Very often, when parents and students are interested in college in the States, they ask what is the best college in the States? They turn to publications like US News and World Report's America's Best Colleges for the answer. I have serious problems with this publication but that's an issue for another day and another blog post.
My answer to the question what is the best college (in the Philippines, in the States, and in the world) is this: you're asking the wrong question. For me, the important question is not what is the best college out there but what is the best college out there FOR YOU.
For many families, the search for an American college boils down to what is the most prestigious college I can get into? And it normally boils down to the usual suspects, the usual names: Harvard, Yale, Princeton (what someone I know calls "The Holy Trinity of American higher education"), the rest of the Ivy League and their clones like Stanford, UC Berkeley and for the technically bent: MIT and Caltech. While there is nothing wrong these fine schools, to base your search on where you will be spending what is arguably the most crucial four years of one's education on a university's name and perceived prestige is at best misleading and at worst, downright destructive.
If you buy a suit, the most important thing is that it has to fit. I don't care what fancy designer or label is attached to it, how much it is, or what the material is...if it don't fit right, you'll look silly wearing it, if you wear it at all. If the suit fits right, it feels great, you look great and you feel like a million bucks.
So it is with colleges. If you go to a college that FITS you, you'll learn more, you'll flourish, you'll get better jobs, and you find yourself looking back on your college years fondly after you've graduated and living the legacy of your alma mater (which literally means "nourishing mother"). Strive to find this fit in your college search and no matter how the race turns out in the end, you'll be the winner.
But how do I find this FIT? Ah...that, grasshopper, is Part Two
John Sy, President and Senior Counselor
Universitas College Counseling
203A CM Recto Street
San Juan, Metro Manila, Philippines
+63 (917) 833-3825
+63 (917) 833-3825