I am a bit of a romantic in that I like to think that there are perfect “ones” out there- the perfect match, the perfect house, the perfect outfit, the perfect shoes, and the perfect job. This romanticism is not unique to me, there are several websites from Zillow.com to Match.com that promote and capitalize on this notion.
As a parent and a college consultant, I realize that such romanticism can be limiting instead of liberating. To have the passion for the pursuit of the “one” can instill commitment to the pursuit of that goal. But it also puts undue and unproductive pressure on the person committed to that one and only choice. And as adults, we do our children a disservice if we teach them that there is one certain and perfect path for them.
Which is why this May 1st, college-bound students who did not opt for Early Decision, should consider many choices before they put their deposits down on one college-the “one” college. One of my student clients was torn between two excellent choices; one college is an elite private school that gave her a generous merit scholarship; the other is her state college that gave her in-state tuition, admission into their Honors Program, and merit money. With her dreams of medical school in her future, she was debating whether to pursue her “dream” school or attend her local state university. After campus visits, discussions with current students at both schools, and a realistic review of her family’s financials, she has opted to attend her state university.
She has invested in a “right fit college.” Because of self-inventory, in-depth analysis of colleges, and a college list reflecting a wide variety of schools based on her interests, personality, exclusivity and the likelihood of merit awards, she has given herself realistic and wide-ranging options as her desires and demands evolve. Her chosen program of study has inroads into medical school that will also help her reach her long-term goals.
Does the wise and prudent choice negate the romanticism of selecting her future college? Absolutely not. There is no such thing as a perfect college, there are only the best colleges based on your circumstances and ambitions. A well-developed time line of college visits and a compilation of a college list containing reach, target, and safety schools will result in a decision on May 1 backed with confidence and discernment.
However, unlike dissolving a relationship, leaving a job, or tossing out the shoes that no longer suit you, transferring to another college for sophomore year does not have to be a traumatic option. With sound reasoning and a strong transfer application, systems are set for a student to find a better fit if a first choice turns disappointing over time. One student consulted with me after realizing his small liberal arts school was not able to accommodate his newly discovered passion for engineering. In his scenario, his freshman year grades and transfer application essays earned him admission to a larger midwestern university with a strong engineering program friendly to transfer students.