Last fall most of you, parents and students, were involved with ratings, rankings, profiles, and reputations to choose which colleges to apply to. Now you are looking forward to your acceptance. There may be great elations and great disappointments in those acceptances, but something to keep in mind is that in an article published last fall in the New York Times by Jacques Steinberg, what is clear is that alumni, five years removed from their college experience, were happy with their college choice—whether they went to a small or large school, an expensive or affordable school, or a private or public school.
The New York Times Poll found that on a national average 93% of alums were satisfied with their college experience and rated it “excellent or good.” However, that satisfaction was not based on the same things that drew them to the colleges they attended in the first place, things like rankings and professor to student ratios. The things alums counted most highly were those experiences like being a resident advisor or a campus tour guide, which gave them skills like public speaking or problem solving. Responders also noted friendships and experiences like weekly basketball games with residence hall members or dining hall pranks, which gave them connections and life-long relationships.
As Steinberg points out, searching for the right college is not a science, but knowing how to be involved in the college experience and having some idea of what to do when you get to college are more important measures of success.
College Basics has a whole section of information about the First Year of college and making it a success, from adjusting to college with extracurricular involvement to campus life and its resources. Now might be the time to think about those aspects of college as you move toward acceptances.