How to Look Past a College’s Reputation
It’s easy for a college’s reputation to scare you off from applying.
Here are some tips on how to look past a college’s image and get a more honest look at a campus:
Talk to Current Students
As informative as professors, counselors and representatives are, chatting with students that are currently attending a university will help you understand what that institution might be lacking. Most students are happy to be honest about the aspects of college life they don’t like. If you feel a college is out of your reach, this is a great way to see how a campus stacks up.
Yes, Ivy League universities deserve high praise and are ranked highly for a reason, but that doesn’t mean they’re the best pick for every major or program. Many smaller colleges have specialized programs that rival well-known institutions. Understanding this can help you figure out which smaller colleges to apply to.
Additionally, considering what extracurriculars are available, what student housing looks like and what major events are put on are ways to bring colleges with lofty reputations onto a more level playing field.
A college’s online and print resources always will use the most glamorous photos of campus and make it seem like the bane of construction never sets a tire on its evergreen fields. Take time to visit campuses and see as much as you can. Tour residential buildings, common areas, lecture halls and attend a sporting event if possible.
Live the Life
While going on a complete tour of a campus and seeing what it’d be like to attend is one thing, living a student’s life for a day is another. If you have a friend at a college you’re visiting, or if the college has a prospective student program that allows this, do your best to recreate a day as a student by spending a night in a dorm, attending a lecture and hanging out with current students. This is possibly the most in-depth and honest evaluation of a college you can get.