There’s been a really interesting conversation going on over at Laura’s virtual Apt. 11D. She posted several pieces of advice she’d give to students about to enter college. She got poked at a bit for being “elitist” and “NE Centric”, but I don’t think that’s entirely fair. I think the whole thing boils down to individual choices. I have a very weird perspective being the teacher of students who are all likely to go to Ivies or at least to exclusive schools. I have a student who’s choosing between MIT and Princeton. UPenn is almost a fallback school. My son, on the other hand, is likely going to end up at a state school or something like it out of state. It’s a weird perspective to be in. For my son, I want to maximize what he gets out of college for what we can afford. It means getting a good financial aid package or going to a state school, perhaps also with a solid financial aid package. He’s not a straight A student, but he’s smart and capable. I think he’d be better off in a smaller environment, but he thinks a larger place would be better. Hard to know.
While I think there’s some general advice about being as selective as possible when choosing a college, sometimes the choice is very individual. It depends on where your student can get in, what you can afford, where you live, etc.
One might start by looking at this list of colleges that change lives. My school, Rhodes College,is on the list. Some of these are exclusive, but not all. They are all interesting. I chose my school after going to a summer program and because my parents went there. I got damn lucky. I’m grateful every day for my education, even if not everyone has heard of my school.