What to Prioritize in a College


Lucy Jaffee, Staff Writer

Upon viewing our school’s 2018 matriculation, I became curious about what La Jolla Country Day students find appealing in a college. I wanted to analyze any trends in our recent graduating class’s matriculation in order to find some reasoning behind why some schools were more popular than others. Of course, the most valuable source for my information is our College Counseling team here at LJCDS. I met with Mrs. Hamman, Mr. Dabrowski, and Mr. Fatongia to receive some perspective on what characteristics LJCDS students look for in a school as well as what factors play into their final decision.

The counselors agreed the location is the main force behind where students apply and choose to go to college. There are over 2,000 universities in the United States alone, yet around 100 are recognized as potential choices. LJCDS students are more likely than others around the country to apply to lesser-known California schools such as Chapman and University of San Francisco since they are in our home state. Mr. Dabrowski’s example was that in Iowa there may be a smaller college perfect for a graduate from LJCDS, yet due to its unknown location, it won’t be applied to.

The counselors believe students here tend to go one of two routes: in-state or near a major city. The three schools that were most commonly applied to by our current seniors were Northeastern, NYU, and Boston University. Northeastern and Boston University are both in Boston, Massachusetts, which is a lively city. In addition, New York University is located in New York City, arguably one of the most influential and bustling cities in the world. This trend was present in the 2018 matriculation as NYU and Northeastern remained among the most popular out-of-state schools. Northwestern, located close to Chicago, was expectedly another common choice. According to the counselors, many seniors want to be able to participate in activities aside from their college campus which is why big cities have appeal. Ironically, they remarked that most students end up spending their time completely on campus despite the outside attractions.

On the other hand, in-state colleges remain a very popular choice. Especially with the continuously rising price of higher education, public, in-state colleges like the UC’s offer a less expensive, yet still not cheap, alternative. The counselors added that remaining close to family and staying in San Diego is a very common choice option. The weather here is impossible to beat and transitioning from high school to college can be difficult, so staying in close contact with relatives can be appealing. The counselors predict most 2019 graduates have applied to at least one UC, and assume this trend it will remain similar consistent. In years past, around 31% of LJCDS seniors chose to attend an in-state school. This number has risen to 40% and can only be expected to grow. Despite the recent scandal involving many California universities, the counselors have no doubt USC, and other schools involved will continue their popular reputation among Country Day students.

Likely in USC’s case, prestige plays a large factor in where students are applying to. People tend to want things they know they can’t obtain, especially when it comes to colleges completely out of a student’s range. Although Ivy League schools are nearly impossible to get in to and not a realistic choice for many students, our counselors noted that even saying you applied to a school so reputable is a frequent choice. Students may believe it’s worth aiming for the small, unrealistic, percentage they could get in. The counselors agreed that a student will disregard their priorities in a school while debating between a famous school that may not meet their interests and one less regarded but a better fit. Applying to a school based solely on prestige can undermine what a student is actually passionate about. The counselors find that if prestige is a guiding quality in a college, students tend to be unhappier with their decision and vice versa.

My main takeaway from the meeting with Mrs. Hamman, Mr. Dabrowski, and Mr. Fatongia was that the key to finding the perfect college for a student is to remain true to your interests and prioritize certain aspects, like location, over superficial characteristics like prestige. They find the most success and happiness comes from looking “inward instead of outward” when deciding where to apply and eventually attend college.

Photo source:https://www.aspenjournalism.org/2015/06/01/making-the-match-of-college/