Problems With Choosing The Best College And Major.
"How to Choose the Right College" literature widely available offers good information but is incomplete for families who care about some non-addressed areas we will cover in succeeding paragraphs. Even well-covered areas like tuition and overall costs are not very objective. We can send you an analysis showing that when all issues are considered, a private college with higher tuition may be more affordable than a lower tuition public college.
Some colleges at least acquiesce or even foster an "animal house" environment or attempt by formal policy or social persuasion, to enforce a politically correct environment where students can experience hostility or worse if they write about or talk about topics that offend certain groups. For details see www.thefire.org which helps with legal resources for students and professors who get into trouble over these issues. The large book "Choosing the Right College" from www.isi.org is best at disclosing the political correctness and moral atmosphere at a lot of colleges.
The College Tour is also important for obvious reasons. Commenting on your tour when applying to the college shows you are interested enough to have actually gone on a tour. You can also assess the moral environment by talking informally with students and noting posted events. Ask for the detailed agenda for new student orientation meetings which may reveal egregious politically correct content. A key part of a tour is not encouraged by the official agenda, which is to review samples of books at the textbook store and assess how they handle controversial subjects. Try to seek explanations from professors for any dubious scholarship noted. We can help you with this if you are wondering about its effectiveness or worth.
Unless a student is very precocious and specialized, undergraduate degrees at a good college may be about as good as getting a similar degree at a more prestigious college. The best scholarship and financing package could be a big determiner as well. A key factor would be to find out how many employers in your major interview and hire senior students for career positions. What kind of grades and experience appear on the resumes of students getting good job offers? Then you have the years of your college experience to build such a resume. If you get a good job that pays less than the "well connected" Ivy League students, you will succeed as well as most anyone in the long run if you are a top performer on the job.
What if you want to attend a college because it has a great accounting program but the general education courses are poor? Contact www.goacta.org to see if the college is one that offers special centers of excellence, or "an island of virtue in a sea of Babylon." For example, most classes in Gen Ed, or the classic liberal arts/core curricula are politically correct, but key professors have established the James Madison Center at Princeton that offers a contrasting choice of the best in the classic liberal arts. UCLA is setting up the Liberal Arts and Free Institutions center, and there are others. Hamilton College is establishing a center near but off-campus because of censorship from left-wing professors.
If you go to a less prestigious college, one advantage is to major in a discipline that has nationally uniform measures of excellence, such as accounting. If you worked hard and got not only a degree but a top score on the CPA exam that was competitive with scores from Ivy League graduates, you could make the case to an employer that you were competitive with the best. Let us discuss other advantages you could have over a graduate from an elite university, especially if you are interviewing for a job at a for-profit corporation as opposed to a non-profit or government employer.
Before choosing a major or career, you may wish to take a nationally respected battery of tests that assess the student's aptitudes with their most intense interests. Even if students are certain of their career/major decision for college, some of them may still change majors midway into college. A good career assessment will subject students to other careers matching aptitudes and interests that "battle test" their initial choice to confirm that they really are as solid on their choice as they think they are.If there is any uncertainty when starting college, they should focus on the best general education courses because that background will be useful no matter what major is chosen. Choices in majors have more than doubled over the last couple decades and courses between majors overlap less. Thus, if a major is changed, the student could add a lot of time before a degree is obtained.