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College Counseling: Resource on Choosing a College


"Choosing a College - How to Make Better Learning Decisions Throughout Your Life" by Michael B. Horn and Bob Moesta is not a difficult read, and it brims with research and resources to help you think about what might be important to your daughter in her choice of college and how to support her finding the right school and program.  

Horn and Moesta suggest students and parents think about what job they are “hiring” the college or university to do. From their research, they pose five main types of jobs a school can do for a student. They assert, “People choose school to”:  

1.      Get into “their best” school – Students may desire entrance into a type of school, an academic program, or a college likely to provide a particular experience. 

2.      Do what is expected of them – Students in this category may not know what they want in a college or what they want to study. They may not know they want to go to college at all. But they are trying to do what they know is expected of them. 

3.      Get away – Sometimes students have some part of their life or experience they want to move away from. Going to college or choosing another kind of post high school experience such as a gap year can help students meet this need. 

4.      Step it up – Students in this category feel they have not been performing up to their potential and seek an opportunity to prove and reinvent themselves. 

5.      Extend themselves – Adults who are successful and happy in their career or with their academic accomplishments but sense there is something more they want to do fit in this category. Educational opportunities that meet this need include certificate programs, coding bootcamps, graduate studies, and brushing up or learning new skills using free online educational programs or community college classes. 

Each of these five “jobs” colleges can fill have motivating forces that propel students forward or pull them back from their decisions. Once students and parents understand the primary motivation driving that student’s college search, it becomes easier to discover and focus on strategies to choose the right type of school and sort out any risks posed by the choice.