ERIC Number: ED498957
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2004-Jul
Choosing a College. Carnegie Perspectives
Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
Like summer football rankings, the college rankings tell something about the potential impact that a college or university may have on a student, based on the resources of campuses on the one hand and their reputations on the other. When a student and that student's parents are looking for "the right campus," resources should be important. What leaders in higher education say about a campus should also be important. Rankings do little, however, to tell students how they will react to the learning environment of a campus, how much they will be stimulated both in and out of class, or how much they will be stretched to excel. By all odds the best indicator of whether a campus will feel right for a student is a campus visit. When possible, prospective students should spend time on any campus they are considering, listening and learning from current undergraduates. It is important to check out not just the curriculum, but also the extra-curriculum and the campus climate. Students should trust a combination of their heads and their hearts in determining how and how well they will engage at a college or university. A campus visit should be supplemented by as much information as possible about teaching and learning on a campus. The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) annually collects information directly from undergraduates at hundreds of campuses, based on research about how and under what circumstances students learn. Prospective students can check to see whether a college in which they are interested participates in NSSE. If so, they may be able to obtain valuable insights about the extent to which students find the academic work challenging, the degree to which they are active learners, the extent of student-faculty interactions, the richness of the out-of-class experiences, the overall campus environment, the exposure to diverse cultural experiences, and the scope of technology uses. NSSE provides a Pocket Guide on what questions students should be asking, drawn from the questions asked on the Survey. Research has shown that the questions NSSE uses gives a good picture of how much students are really learning. Fortunately, many campuses would be a right fit for any particular student, so there should be many institutions from which to choose. The quality of campus resources and of incoming students are some of what should be considered. Learning is the primary goal of going to college and students should determine what environment will best support them in becoming successful learners, and which institutions will meet their needs and interests. Making the effort and taking the time to investigate an institution fully before choosing where to apply is a short-term investment that will bring dividends for life.
Descriptors: Student Attitudes, Educational Quality, College Choice, Institutional Characteristics, Educational Resources, Educational Environment, College Bound Students, Curriculum, Student Needs, Student Interests, Essays
Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. 51 Vista Lane, Stanford, CA 94305. Tel: 650-566-5102; Fax: 650-326-0278; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web site: http://www.carnegiefoundation.org
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Menlo Park, CA.