1. When considering a US undergraduate program for your student, look beyond college rankings.
US News and World Report ranks colleges and universities based on factors like alumni giving, graduation rates, and the percent of students in the top 10% of their classes– not on the success of graduates. Better rankings include, graduate school placement, graduate earnings, opportunities for undergraduates to do their own research, prizes won by students. It is wise to supplement these rankings with more undergraduate-focused criteria. PayScale rankings and Ph.D. production on a per-capita basis are all good measures of undergraduate quality. For a better source of rankings that looks at outcomes, visit Forbes Magazine’s college rankings.
2. Don’t fret over going pre-professional with your major—it is less important than you think.
Unlike other parts of the world, students in the United States do not specialize as quickly. Increasingly, students in the US attend post-graduate programs like business, law and medical schools to get the specialization they will need for their jobs. Unless a student is very sure of their focus, it is fine to pursue a wide range of interests. There will be plenty of time later to specialize in graduate school, through internships and on-the-job experiences.
3. Undergraduate admission is difficult at top schools (Ivy League, Stanford, MIT, etc).
If a family is considering undergraduate admission at one of these “names”, it is good to be aware that admission is uber-competitive and costs may be high. Since 40% of spaces are assigned to recruited athletes, legacies, and under-represented minorities, the number of available spaces is actually more limited than the admit rates show; in fact, most students stand a less than 5% chance of admission at Ivy-level colleges like Columbia, Harvard, Princeton, Yale and Stanford.
4. Look beyond the Ivy League. Please don’t overlook the bumper crop of small, prestigious colleges.
Instead of focusing on Ivy League, MIT and Stanford, look to choose high quality colleges that feed into top graduate schools. The Wall St. Journal published a study of the top 50 “feeder” colleges.
5. Look for the right college match.
Base your decisions about where your student will attend not based solely on location, prestige or cost. It is a good idea to check to see if the college’s values are the same as your student’s. A good source of information is StudentsReview.com Colleges, like people, have values; it’s like joining a family. The network that you inherit by attending a particular college is for life!
College Match can help you find your college fit with in-person and virtual offerings.