Rankings Aren’t Everything: What Matters in Your College Search

Oct 09 2015
Every student is an individual with his or her own interests. If your top concern is a college’s ranking, you are missing some great opportunities. “Best” is much more nuanced than a simple list can portray. The right choice for your child cannot be identified by U.S. News, Barron's or any other list.
  • diplomaMany outstanding students seek highly specialized programs that best fit their own goals and interests. These selective programs are not always at “top” schools, but they are top programs.

  • Money Matters! For cost-conscious families, weighing offers of admission is about more than rankings or even specific programs -- it is about merit and financial aid offers, and the whether or not to take on parent and student debt. The best decision for some families is a college or university that has a more modest reputation and a strong desire to enroll highly qualified students. These packages often include four-year guarantees of aid, support for international travel, and other considerations that ensure a top notch experience.


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  • Merit aid (Available to all students regardless of family income) can reduce tuition obligations significantly, with offers ranging from $10,000 to full tuition. For some students, merit aid offered exceeds the cost of their Friends’ Central educations.

  • A college choice may be affected by a student’s desire to play sports. In fact, strong athletes often seek programs that match their academic talent with their athletic abilities. From big Division I schools, to tiny Division III schools, colleges need athletes to play on their teams. Building a relationship with a college coach can be the first step to seeing if a school is right for your family.

  • Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is that you should stay calm! It is easy to get caught up in the stress of the college admission season, but it doesn’t help!

Topics: College Rankings

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