Finding the Right College
Gearing up for college may seem like a monumental task. With all of the universities flooding your mailbox with their recruiting efforts, placing applications for the schools of choice, and posturing yourself for the financial investment, students may wonder, “What if it isn’t enough? There is only one valedictorian per class. What if I don’t make the cut into the university of my choice?”
Take a breather, a sip of tea, and remember the core classes a student takes during their freshman year are very similar, whatever school you attend. If you haven’t chosen the school that would best serve your interests and career goals, or if you are concerned that you may not make the first-string cut for your freshman year, there is next year.
According to US News, 1 in 3 college freshmen will not return for their sophomore year. This creates a vacuum for students who didn’t get into the school of their choice the first year to step into the school they really want. Meanwhile, choose another school where you can get some of your basic required coursework such as English, History, and Math underway.
First, do some checking.
- Call the admissions office of your first choice school or look online and ask what their freshman retention rate is. If it’s very low, you’ll want to know why and how those factors may pertain to you if you entered as a sophomore. You can also ask them if there are generally openings for sophomore entries in the specific field you want to study.
- What classes will they allow you to transfer in from other schools? Will it depend on what school you attend for your freshman year? Some schools have agreements with particular colleges that they will allow transfer students to bring most of their previous coursework in from. Also, some courses may differ significantly from state-to-state.
Starting at a school closer to home for your freshman year may help you save some money if your preferred school is out of state or prestigious. Living at home during this time helps save money or living in a dorm on campus can help you adapt to college life with less pressure than you might feel at the first-choice school. It may ease the transition from being under your parents’ roof to being on your own.
In the end, your résumé will reflect most prominently the school you get your degree from. Changing schools after your freshman year allows prospective employers to see that you are flexible and motivated and that you will set goals and do what it takes to achieve them. You persevere. These are great qualities that impress employers, who also understand the competitiveness and struggle to get into “the right” school.
One added advantage to getting a sophomore admission: once you get your freshman year down, you are more likely to be truly settled into your career goals. In Penn State’s academic advising journal, The Mentor, Liz Freedman reported in June 2013 that in a 1995 study, 20 to 50% of college freshmen entered without a major and that about 75% of college students change their major at least once. She goes on to say that this also affects retention rates. This is important for the new student to consider from two different perspectives. First of all, no matter how much you may think you know what you want to major in, time and academic experience play an important role in choosing the major that best suits you. You are more likely to stay in school and succeed when your major truly parallels your personality and goals. Secondly, it also implicates that other freshmen entering the school of your choice may discover they are not really where they want or need to be after all and by shifting their studies, may create room for you in the school where you belong.
Higher education is a life-long process. College admissions and career choices are not entirely hinged on your high school GPA or how you compared at that moment in time to your classmates. If you don’t get admitted into the school of your choice the first go around, choose another reputable school to get your freshman coursework and apply for a transfer into the school of your dreams your sophomore year.
The Tenney School is a private school that helps prepare high school students for success in higher education. Contact them today to learn more about how you can prepare for academic success in the college or university of your choice.