You have managed to navigate the American school system’s over-reliance on rote memorization in order to pass ridiculously stupid standardized tests in order for politicians to act like they are doing something about raising the standards of education in America (they aren’t) and now you are ready to head for college. But which one? Should you apply to Yale despite the fact that they let George W. Bush graduate? Should you head for MIT despite the fact that the hottie quotient there is next to nil? And the University of Chicago? Heck, they don’t even have a football team! Should you choose Harvard over Yale while remembering that George W. Bush was granted an MBA from there? How do you decide on a college that is right for your purposes if you aren’t already locked in because daddy was a political insider?
First off, decide if you want to play football despite being a convicted felon. Your choice: Florida State University. Trust me; felon football players thrive at FSU like they thrive nowhere else.
Gather Ye Rosebuds
Get as much information about the colleges that interest you that you can. Consult books like The Insider’s Guide to College, Treasure Schools and web sites like the Real World Guide to College and, of course, the official web sites of the college you’d like to attend. Get information on the intricacies of how specific colleges work from any graduate you can find. This can easily be done while at the same time making FaceBook worthwhile for something besides growing virtual crops.
Hit your high school guidance counselor up for information on the best schools suited for your talents. A guidance counselor who is worth the excessive pay he receives will be armed with a truckload of college information send him from those very same colleges. Guidance counselors can share vital information with you about colleges that you may not find on the college web site. If your guidance counselor isn’t hip to what’s happening on campuses, seek out another counselor than the one you were assigned. Not all guidance counselors are created equal.
Ruthless honesty is vital when choosing a college. Do you want to spend serious time studying so you can get a great job that won’t be outsourced by the time you graduate? (The only jobs that you can be certain won’t be outsourced are CEO and athletic star, by the way.) Is college just a way station between partying with your high school friends and partying with your co-workers at Wal-Mart or the Home Depot? If you know you’re not going to be giving it your all education-wise, then choose a party school like Chico State or the Univ. of Miami-Fl. If you want to make something of your self besides getting the college nickname Cheechy Chong, head to Thomas Aquinas College or Hanover College. And, again, if you want to make the starting football team despite having been arrested twice for shoplifting, there is FSU.
Location, Location, Location
If you are looking at college as a way of establishing your independence, then head across the country. Those who went to high school in Sacramento should think about Penn St. Those who grew up in the Nittany Valley should consider Stanford. If you want to make sure you can get home for mom’s Thanksgiving feast without having to worry about a weather-related layover at O’Hare, then pick a school close by. If you think you might get homesick more often than sick from drinking too much at a Friday night party, consider a college within a hundred miles. If the last thing you want to wake up to is a surprise visit from mom, dad or little sister, make sure that you choose a college that is at least a full day’s drive away from your old bedroom.
Yoda was wrong when he said size matters not. When it comes to choosing the right college for you, size matters a lot. Larry Byrd was invited to see the Univ. of Indiana by b-ball coach Bobby Knight. The kid from French Lick was overwhelmed and instead chose little Indiana State over the Hoosiers. Some people thrive on a large campus while others are overwhelmed. Be realistic in your assessment of what you want from a college. If you want a never-ending chance to be distracted, then head for the Univ. of Florida or Southern Cal. If you know you’ll be too cowed by college campuses roughly the same size as the small town where you grew up, then look into smaller schools like the College of Wooster, Willamette Univ. or Macalester College.