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The Right Way To Rank Your Student's College Choices


There is no one right way to rank colleges. Each student and their family have a unique set of college priorities. For instance, the Smith family has a strong academic student who would like to major in business and must go to a school that provides generous merit aid. They do not care about the geographic location of the school or the size of the student population. US News & World Report has a list of top business undergraduate programs, but it does not prioritize job outcomes or student debt ratios. Money, on the other hand, provides rankings and lists that may be far a more useful tool for the Smith family. For example, Money creates a list of the “10 Great Colleges for Business Majors. This list is particularly good because it takes into consideration both the early earnings of graduates and student debt ratios, which are equally important to understand when weighing how much debt is right for a student. The takeaway here is that rankings are only useful when they are meeting your student’s very specific needs.


Every family will have a different set of needs. It is important to discuss your priorities as a family, above all outlining the financial parameters that must be met. Discuss this often and begin as early as 9th grade. It will help your student focus on attaining the best possible admissions outcome.  Beyond financial considerations, students may consider geography, strength of major, job outcomes for a discipline, size of student body and internship opportunities, to name just a few. There is a list and ranking for virtually everything you might consider about a college, but the real trick is considering these many rankings in relation to your student’s priorities. The more you develop and fine tune your list of priorities, the better college list you will create that meets your student’s unique set of considerations.


During your student’s junior year of high school they will begin to hear a lot of college “noise.” This can be a very anxiety filled time if you have not done your homework as a family. It’s easy to be lured by other’s people list of top colleges. When your student has developed their own admission outcome goals, it is much easier to relax and ignore the drama. You will know that the list of colleges your student is applying to is the right list for them. Essential College Coaches specialize in helping every student find the Right College - Contact Us to start your student on the right path to college choice.


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