Contrary to what U.S. News and World Report would have you believe, there is no single, meaningful metric for measuring how “good” a college is, and therefore no simple way to reduce the thousands of college options to a list of schools worthy of your consideration. If you compare yourself to a sibling or a friend, you will notice that you have different academic interests, hobbies, social habits, athletic talents, and even core values.
Picture these two friends:
- George wants to explore the humanities; loves small, discussion-based classes; wants to be able to play competitive soccer (but is not a Division I level talent); likes being able to step outside his door and toss a frisbee with a friend to relax; and likes the idea of living somewhere different from the Puget Sound area for a while.
- Martha really wants to study Engineering or Computer Science, desires an opportunity to work with professors on their research, hopes to join a competitive robotics team, would like to sing acapella, wishes to avoid being at a school where sports are the center of campus social life, and hopes to live in a major urban center.
Are the same schools going to be right for these two students? Probably not! This is why it’s so important for you to embark on a process of self-exploration to guide you in your search for colleges that are right for your own individual needs, priorities, and goals.