Have you ever walked into a snooty boutique only to be ignored by the even snootier staff? Have you ever found yourself at a party where you don't know any of the guests? If so, then you know how uncomfortable it is to feel out of place. Unfortunately, this can also happen when choosing a college or university. No two schools are the same, and while one may make you feel at home, the other may make you feel like you just landed on an alien planet.
The key to picking the right school is to take the time to do some self-reflection. Many prospective students skip this step and jump ahead to picking a college based on the school's glossy brochure or website. But before you even look at schools, take a long, hard look at yourself and ask some serious questions about what you want. Not only will this greatly improve your odds of ending up at a school that's right for you, but it will also come in handy when you need to express these feelings in your applications and admission essays.
So let's take the first step to picking the perfect college by uncovering what you really want.
When you were in high school you may have taken a career assessment test. This was the exam in which you used a number two pencil to bubble in page after page of questions about what you enjoy, your strengths and desires for the future. Then, depending on how long ago you went to school you either used the answers to sort through a bunch of index cards or simply waited a few days to receive the results by computer. In either case what you ended up with was a list of careers that supposedly fit your personality and talents. Based on the results, you were declared fit to become an accountant, attorney or even long-haul truck driver.
While these tests sometimes produced interesting answers, the idea behind them is sound. It's important to analyze your strengths, weaknesses and goals to figure out what you want out of college before you start applying to a bunch of schools. As you've grown older (and immensely wiser) you've probably realized that life is complicated and there are few cut and dry answers. Otherwise, we would all have followed the results of those career assessment tests, and some of us would be driving tractor-trailers instead of writing about college.
Our test to help you find the right college is not multiple-choice. At the end of the test we won't give you the names of three perfect colleges. Life is just not that simple. However, we do promise that by taking our test you will discover what you are looking for in a college and what aspects of a school are important to you. With a clearer understanding of what you want, it will be much easier to pick a school that satisfies your needs. So sharpen that figurative number two pencil and take our test to help you figure out what you want. And you thought you only have to take tests after you get into college!
How your education will enhance your career is one of the most important factors.
Gen and Kelly Tanabe
Founders of SuperCollege and authors of 13 books on college planning.
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