College Fit: Getting Out

More critical than getting into college is how a student gets out of college. A college education is not about making widgets but about learning the skills to gather and filter information, determine the validity of the information, frame and analyze it, create solutions, make arguments pro and con, defend them, and decide on a course of action knowing that information is imperfect in a fast-changing world. But in which academic field does one develop these skills? A major difficulty before college is gaining exposure to what the world has to offer, particularly in interdisciplinary fields.

Some people have known since childhood what they want to study in college. Others experience a eureka moment sparking their life's work. Most students, however, enter college undecided on their objectives, hoping that something will click when taking an elective course.

For graduate law, business, or medical programs, any college major is possible as long as professional school admission requirements are met. For many other occupations, specific majors provide a crucial knowledge base or fulfill licensing requirements. Another educational option is combined baccalaureate-postgraduate degrees. But all too often, explorations of long-term personal interests fall behind the immediate high school demands of grades and test scores.

Part of college preparation is to discover individual strengths and interests, and how to develop them during and after college. College aspirations can be discerned as early as the sophomore year of high school. CollegesGPS can help students transcend an indifferent college search process, and identify through coursework, activities, and interest surveys:

Applicable curricular and extracurricular options
Which colleges offer desirable courses of study.

Once critical curricular elements are researched and collected, a list of colleges with relevant programs can begin. A great college fit connects individual goals with institutional resources.

For many students, finding an academic direction before college can focus efforts to do well in high school. And it's easier to explore different directions during high school than after college graduation. Ideally, postgraduate goals are guided by college curricular choices, which, in turn, are guided by high school experiences.