As college acceptances start arriving many parents and their college-bound seniors find themselves in the delightful position of sifting through multiple acceptances. The process often returns them to square one, forcing a period of soul-searching to discern what a school is and what it can offer.
To make this decision easier, Judy Ann Valyo, EdD, dean of freshman studies at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), recently prepared a checklist of 8 signs for parents and prospective college students to consider. Valyo, a Fort Lee resident, is responsible for guiding new students—both freshman students and transfer students—through the academic process during their first year at NJIT.
Signs for Selecting the Right College or University
1. Academic Strength
Professional accreditations, rankings, noted scholars, evidence of research (books and journal articles), honors, awards and other recognitions for a particular program and/or professor make an institution stand out. Such information is usually available on the institution’s web site or in publications. The trick is to make sure these strengths relate to your student’s career aspirations or chosen field.
2. Teaching and Learning Resources
The best resource in any college or university is an excellent library. In addition, look for the kinds of learning resources, in addition to classes, available to students. Popular aides include learning centers, computing support, peer and/or faculty tutors.
3. Computing Resources
How will the student encounter computers in learning, and how will technology, in general, be used in teaching and learning?
4. Quality of Faculty
For faculty credentials comb course catalogues and/or the institution’s website. Signs of faculty development such as a teaching and learning center and/or a program for faculty development activities demonstrate institutional support for excellence in instruction. Look for a process that allows students to evaluate courses, and/or other opportunities for students to provide feedback on the instructional quality.
5. Student Outcomes
Who are the students your youngster will sit with in class? Average or mean SAT scores and high school class rank, tip you off to the scholarly climate on campus and in the dorms as well as the level of competition.
6. Career Development Services
Before you spend money to educate your youngster in a field, find out if there will be jobs for them. And, at the same time, what is the success rate of this institution in placing students in those jobs. Note too, the college or university resources available for career development.
7. Residential Life
What is included in residential life resources? What are the rules and procedures that govern residential life? How does the student influence the conditions under which he or she resides? How is residential life monitored?
8. Visit the Campus; Trust Your “Gut “ Feelings
One through seven is the basis for forming your opinions before you visit the campus (or campuses) in which you are most interested. Visit campus when school is in session. Participate in the “prospective student overnight visit” program. Ask current students what they like or don’t like about the college or university. At the end of the day, ask yourself if you would feel comfortable at the college or university. If your answer is a resounding yes, you’ve found a match.