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How do you find the best college for?


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When dd applied she applied to overall good schools because she didn't know what she wanted to do. But now she is edging toward international affairs or something similar. I've tried googling best colleges for international affairs and I get a good list. None of the colleges on their are a surprise to me. But they are also not colleges dd applied to. So how do I find a list that will compare the three she applied to for this major, not an overall this college is better than that one. I'm happy to do my own googling I just need someone to help me with the terms.


OH, and they are all NC colleges and no, she did not apply to Duke. Duke shows up on every list I find on-line.

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Well, with some majors, I think it's tougher to get a read on any particular school. There are some academic areas that do not lend themselve well to being discribed in brief, survey style. I think that maybe I'd try getting some contact info from the alumni office of these institutions. Find out if any recent graduates of the department would be willing to answer questions. Also, ask about the graduate school entrance rates, and job placement rates for this major for each school. See if you can find someone in the field to talk with because they may have some insight to share.


I'd also arrange for your dd to speak with a college senior in that major from each institution. Ask pointed questions such as, "What do you believe are the five best qualities of this department and what are the five worst?" "If you had one thing you would NOT want to see changed in this department, what would it be? Conversely, what changes would you strongly recommend?"


From there, look at fit. Maybe one of these will come out strongly ahead of the others in this field and it will be a place that your dd will strive in. However, that's not always the case. My youngest son's dream school, the one that even at the age of 12 he is applying himself to becoming their "dream student", is I fear, a very, very bad fit for his personality and that he will be miserable there. I'm hoping he will come to that realization before it is time to apply. I really want it off his application list because if he gets in, I know he'll be determined to go and that at the end of the first semester, we'll be driving to Massachusetts to pick him up and bring a very defeated, shaken up, young man home. So, try to get her to think about more than just the major.



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If the colleges are close to home, call and make an appointment with a professor or two. Have your child come armed with great questions about the field, what is available at the college, the emphasis of the classes, and what recent majors are doing post-graduation.


* Where are recent grads from the department working?

* What kinds of summer jobs/internships/research positions have current students held?

* Do many grads go to grad school? (approximate percentage) If so, where do they go?

* Has the department had any memorable students lately? What did they do as undergrads, and where are they now?

* Does the department help students find internships and research positions, or are the students completely on their own?


Many professors are professors because they love to teach and they love the interaction with students. Asking for this favor is not outrageous, and if none of the profs want to interact with your student, even on the phone, that gives you a HUGE window into what that college is like!

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