to this joke of a contracting job which I guess will be ending soon. My assignment was write how to Choose the Best College for Your Major in 10 steps. Here’s what I came up with:
Picking a college major is fun for some, agonizing for others. Contrary to popular belief, your college major will not decide the course of your entire life. But, if you’re lucky enough to know what you want to study and pursue, and have known since you were five years old, how do you choose the best college for your beloved major? Read on.
It’s an old adage, but holds true in this case too: location, location, location. If you’re from Southern California, and you’re interested in architecture, it’s true that Rhode Island School of Design has an outstanding program. It’s also true that Newport winters are brutal and long; if you can’t handle the climate, it will be hard to focus on your studies.
Student loans are an unfortunate reality of education in America; in many other Western nations, higher education is better supported by government, and society as a whole. In the U.S., higher education is a business. So, when choosing your major, go with the school with the best price tag, and the best grants and scholarships. There is a growing movement to forgive student loan “debt” (itself a loaded word, when many, many nations don’t saddle 18-year-olds with such a burden); we’re hoping the people will triumph over the banks.
Instead of reading through various literature sent by colleges, and guidebooks about colleges, go to an impartial source for information. Consumer Reports does an excellent review of colleges, and the Chronicle of Higher Education (technically a job network, for college grads) has a lot of honest talk from graduates. Stay away from the College Board of America; this is actually a corporation.
Don’t forget that college is a time for fun, not just study. Are the best schools for your major also offering decent recreational sports, drama clubs, kazoo bands, and square dancing? Remember that college is one of the last times in your life when you’ll be allowed to have actual fun; you don’t want to miss that.
One good way to learn about colleges and their strengths is to read up on the faculty. If you’re a history buff, read the books written by Renaissance or WWI scholars at the schools you’re interested in. Some schools have Nobel recipients on staff, but that doesn’t always tell you how they’ll teach; reading their writing, in books and articles, is a little more revealing.
This isn’t all that hidden anymore, but it’s still very annoying, and a possible deterrent from certain schools: fees piled on top of fees. If the application fee to a school is over $100, this is a sign that it’s a money-grubbing, capitalist black hole. If this school won’t give you any assistance on the application fee, they’re not going to give you much help later on. Remember that as a student, you have the right to demand an affordable education.
It’s wise to research not just the school’s majors and minors, but what their campus offers. Is there a decent library, or are you going to be crowded in with three thousand other people trying to study? What does the surrounding town have to offer? Is it a cow town? And what about the school’s cafeteria? What if it’s no better than your high school’s?
Never underestimate the importance of a strong student body. In the coming class wars, you’ll want to link arms with a group of like-minded, ruthless individuals who aren’t afraid of pepper spray.
Higher education in America costs approximately as much a brand new luxury sedan every year; instead of taking on this debt, why not study abroad? If you speak French or Spanish, try posing as a young European, and going to school for free. Italian speakers, German linguists, and Finnish scholars are also able to better themselves without a lifetime of debt.
Once you’ve got your list of dream schools lined up, make every effort to visit the campuses. Nothing will tell you more about a university than actually being there. Do take notes: how many times did you get hit on? Are there free condoms in the bathrooms?
If you follow the steps above, you might just end up at the college of your dreams. And, then you’ll get the job, car, mortgage, babies, affairs, and all the other good things that come with an advanced degree!
(and, the tacked on thing for search engines) did you know?
Student loan debt now exceeds credit card debt in America. But, a framed degree still looks good above your desk at the office (or in your parents’ basement).
Well, it seems like I did try at some points to be boring and dutifully earn my $8. But it was such a stupid article, and unworthy of ten steps, that I couldn’t help but be real. Stay tuned for the response from my editors/termination email.