As our senior students are heading toward completion of their high school career, they are now thinking about the mark they will make at the colleges they will attend. I have no doubt in my mind that our students are prepared to continue their academic, personal, and professional development through the opportunities that their colleges will offer.
Considering this, I am often asked by students and parents alike what to look for in a college. While this answer will vary for each individual student (i.e. program of study, size, location, etc.), some factors which I discussed in an earlier blog, there are a few others that I believe will apply to all.
I think it is important to find a school that will foster a student’s growth both inside and outside of the classroom. For a variety of reasons, a school with field or internship experience built into the curriculum and opportunities to learn from and engage with faculty is important. An internship can offer a closer look at an area of interest or field of study that the student is pursuing. It may ignite a student’s passion and additionally open the door to future employment. Working with and developing relationships with faculty through research or assistantships is also invaluable. Due to the time spent together, faculty can offer insight on a student’s future professional goals and how to achieve those goals. Through consistent interaction, faculty members are able to provide more comprehensive recommendations to a student’s future employer or graduate program.
Part of fostering a student’s growth outside of the classroom is a college’s emphasis on global learning. At MPA, project week and service-related experiences pave the way for our students in global learning. We encourage students to continue enhancing their global knowledge beyond high school. Colleges often offer field-based and/or service-based travel experiences for their students. Students can immerse themselves in a place that is foreign to them, learning more about the people, culture, and way of life in a new environment. Participation in service can provide a student with a sense of humility, self-awareness, and an enhanced level of empathy. These lessons will follow a student beyond the educational environment. Students should consider researching these offerings prior to their entry into the colleges they are pursuing.
Finally, gathering knowledge on a school’s career center is also imperative to the process. While it is always important to learn what services are offered to current students, an equally important factor is services offered to graduates. Are employment opportunities shared with graduates? Is career center staff available to work with students on cover letters, resumes, etc.? What efforts are taken to guide students regarding employment, graduate school, or other postgraduate programs? Schools can often provide statistics on the postgraduate plans of their alumni. This can give students a sense of the support provided to graduates.
While many factors will play a role in the college search process, these are a few that have become increasingly common. Students should seek out a school that will enable their personal, academic, and professional growth.
By Karen Horvath
Mrs. Horvath is our College Counselor.