college education

With So Many College Majors Available, How Do I Choose The Right One for Me?

School is almost over and it’s time to decide which college major or career path you are going to choose. Well, this is probably one of the first hardest decisions you’ll have to make as it is going to impact your future. Here are 5 steps that you can follow to make sure you are making the right decision.

1. Come up with a list of things you like or interested in

Start to figure out what things you enjoy doing the most. Writing a list of 5 to 10 things you enjoy spending your leisure time in or you are interested in learning more about will help you find out which career fits your personality. You want to study something that makes you feel happy and curious about.

2. Know your strengths and weaknesses

Finding out what your strengths and weaknesses are might help you discover the pros and cons of different majors. An easier way to find out these qualities is to make an introspection of what school subjects you liked and good at in school and what subjects you struggled the most.

3. Project yourself in the future

Try to see yourself in the role that you chose. How would you feel? On the other hand, it’s also important to think about the financial aspect. It’s known that money is not all in life but let’s be honest, everyone wants to make money. Is the career that you are pursuing going to give you financial stability in the future?

4. Try to find someone to guide you

Sometimes you may think you have everything under control, let me tell you it’s never a bad idea to have some extra help. It’s important to find someone you can count on, older people have more experience and can guide you and help you have a clear vision. There are a lot of people that would be happy to help you and give you good pieces of advice. It does not matter if they are family members, teachers or even both, being open and listening to their opinions might help you make better choices.

5. Research as much as possible about your different options

There are different ways in which you can find out more about the different career options. The first approach is the basic and popular one, just google it! Do your own research and see different information. On the other hand, the most “sophisticated” way to do it is by doing interviews, yes! Interviewing people that are working in the field you are interested in.

Final Thoughts

It is important to take the time to make the best decision. Even though this is a hard and important decision you should know that your major is not going to define you. In the end, everything comes down to you as you can achieve whatever you want in life.

Top 50 Best Colleges in the United States: myKlovr 2018 Rankings

Your virtual college counselor has arranged a list of 2018’s 50 best colleges and universities in the U.S. MyKlovr arranged a ranking-scale by combining the average ranking and data of some of the most reliable college rankings, including sources such as the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Niche, and more.

 

1) Harvard University

  • Location: Cambridge, MA
  • Student Enrollment: 29,652
  • College Type: Private

The oldest institute of higher learning in the country, Harvard is well known for its political science, social science, and law programs. With a beautiful campus and an 87% graduation rate in the standard four years, Harvard is the most prestigious and sought after university in the country.

 

2) Stanford

  • Location: Stanford, CA
  • Student Enrollment: 16,980
  • College Type: Private

Known for their Computer Science program, Stanford enrolls nearly 17,000 students with average ACT scores hovering between 31 – 36 points. Stanford’s location, close in proximity to Silicon Valley is a great incentive for living arrangements for many applicants.

 

3) Yale University

  • Location: New Haven, CT
  • Student Enrollment: 12,385
  • College Type: Private

Yale University is arguably the most selective Ivy League school with a rich history, tight community, and impressive alumni organization. Yale is also the alma mater of 5 U.S. presidents and 20 living billionaires.

 

4) Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • Location: Cambridge, MA
  • Student Enrollment: 11,311
  • College Type: Private

Opened up to students in 1865 after the Civil War, MIT, is worldwide leader in physical sciences, engineering, economics, and biology.

 

5) California Institute of Technology

  • Location: Pasadena, California
  • Student Enrollment: 2,255
  • College Type: Private

CalTech is best known for their prestigious engineering program, social life, sports teams, and famous beaver mascot. The extremely small student body can be extremely appealing or problematic to potential applicants depending upon their individual interests.

 

6) University of Pennsylvania

  • Location: Philadelphia, PA
  • Student Enrollment: 24,876
  • College Type: Private

Upenn’s motto is “Leges sine moribus vanae,” meaning “Laws without morals are useless.” The competitive, yet respected reputation, as well as the city-feel location of this Ivy-League school is a huge reason why Upenn receives well over 37,000 applications each year.

 

7) Princeton University

  • Location: Princeton, NJ
  • Student Enrollment: 8,143
  • College Type: Private

Formerly known as the college of New Jersey in the 1800’s, Princeton is well known for their Econ concentration. It is no surprise that they also have a phenomenal financial aid program, graduating 83% of their students without student debt.

 

8) Duke University

  • Location: Durham, NC
  • Student Enrollment: 15,984
  • College Type: Private

With a shockingly small faculty to student ratio of 7:1, The majority of Duke’s students are enrolled in the graduate school. With a wide variety of majors to choose from, Duke is known for their top-tier athletic teams and facilities, including their lacrosse team who has won 3 national championships.

 

9) University of Chicago

  • Location: Chicago, IL
  • Student Enrollment: 15,391
  • College Type: Private

The university is composed of the College, various graduate programs and committees organized into five academic research divisions and seven professional schools. The University of Chicago scholars have played a major role in the development of many academic disciplines, including sociology, literary criticism, religion, and more.

 

10) Dartmouth College

  • Location: Hanover, NH
  • Student Enrollment: 6,350
  • College Type: Private

Dartmouth provides 57 majors for their students throughout their quarter plan. The most popular of these majors are Economics and Political Science. Dartmouth also has a unique Center for Professional Development, in which faculty members work with students and employers to achieve post-graduate success.

 

11) Rice University

  • Location: Houston, TX
  • Student Enrollment: 6,719
  • College Type: Private

With a competitive acceptance rate and 6:1 faculty to student ratio, Rice places great emphasis and support on academic achievement, as well as their sports teams, including their 14 Division one programs and wide variety of intramural sports.

 

12) Brown University

  • Location: Providence, RI
  • Student Enrollment: 9,458
  • College Type: Private

With an incredibly long history, Brown was the first school in the Ivy League, 7th oldest college in the country, and the first to admit students regardless of their religious affiliation. The unique city of Providence is also another reason many students chose to apply here.

 

13) University of Notre Dame

  • Location: Notre Dame, IN
  • Student Enrollment: 12,292
  • College Type: Private

Most Notre Dame students live on campus, hovering around 80% of the student-body. This is huge factor in the incredible turn-outs of their sporting events at Notre Dame Stadium, specifically football games, seating over 80,000 fans. Popular majors include finance, marketing, and accounting.

 

14) Vanderbilt

  • Location: Nashville, TN
  • Student Enrollment: 12,567
  • College Type: Private

Located in the middle of Nashville, Vanderbilt is known for their strong curriculum and upstanding reputation. Vanderbilt accepts students with average SAT scores between 1,430-1,580 and ACT scores between 32-36.

 

15) Washington University in St. Louis

  • Location: Lexington, VA
  • Student Enrollment: 2,172
  • College Type: Private

Named after George Washington and Robert E. Lee, W&L offers a wide variety of majors and minors. Their school motto is Non Incautus Futuri, meaning not unmindful of the future.

 

16) Amherst College

  • Location: Amherst, MA
  • Student Enrollment: 1,849
  • College Type: Private

Amherst is often referred to as the best liberal arts college in the country. Their academic reputation, political engagement, and scenic campus is a large factor in why students choose this school over many Ivy-League schools.

 

17) Georgetown University

  • Location: Washington, DC
  • Student Enrollment: 18,459
  • College Type: Private

Offering around 50 majors, Georgetown is made up of 9 grad and under-grad schools. They are best known for their Economics, Political Science, and Finance programs. They are also regarded as having a very active student body, especially when it comes to their sports teams.

 

18) Harvey Mudd College

  • Location: Claremont, CA
  • Student Enrollment: 800
  • College Type: Private

With an extremely small student body, Harvey Mudd’s mission is fairly simple and straight forward. As a liberal arts college, they aim to educate future mathematicians, engineers, and scientists. In fact, they have one of the best engineering programs in the nation.

 

19) University of California – Berkley

  • Location: Berkley, California
  • Student Enrollment: 40,154
  • College Type: Public

Often considered as the best public school in the country, UC Berkley specializes in Social Sciences, Engineering, Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Multi/Interdisciplinary Studies, and Mathematics and Statistics. Although the school has a massive student body, 52.3 percent of its classes have fewer than 20 students. It is also interesting to note that the average freshman retention rate, an indicator of student satisfaction, is 97 percent.

 

20) Swarthmore College

  • Location: Swarthmore, PA
  • Student Enrollment: 1,581
  • College Type: Private

Founded by Quakers in 1864, Swarthmore was one of the first coeducational schools in the U.S. It has an 89% four-year graduation rate. They also have a very small student-to-faculty ratio of roughly 8:1, giving students plenty of face to face exposure with their professors.

 

21) Williams College

  • Location: Williamstown, MA
  • Student Enrollment: 2,171
  • College Type: Private

Known as being one of the oldest and most prestigious colleges in the U.S., Williams was founded in 1793. They are also known for meeting 100% of admitted students’ financial needs.

 

22) University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

  • Location: Ann Arbor, MI
  • Student Enrollment: 43,651
  • College Type: Public

Michigan has an extremely unique curriculum when it comes to choosing fields of interests. Their most popular majors include more general studies such as Business, Economics, Psychology, and Computer Sciences. They also have a flourishing social scene that revolves around their top-notch sports programs including football, hockey, and basketball.

 

23) Johns Hopkins University

  • Location: Baltimore, MD
  • Student Enrollment: 22,686
  • College Type: Private

Founded in 1876, Johns Hopkins is known for their incredible medical school. It is no wonder that their most popular undergraduate majors are Nursing, Public Health, and Biomedical Engineering. Many students here have a lot of pride in their school and sports teams, specifically the lacrosse team.

 

24) Carnegie Mellon University

  • Location: Pittsburg, Pennsylvania
  • Student Enrollment: 13,503
  • College Type: Private

Carnegie Mellon is known for its programs in science and technology, but its seven schools and colleges include the College of Fine Arts and the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences. They are also known for their acclaimed grad-programs.

 

25) Tufts University

  • Location: Medford, MA
  • Student Enrollment: 11,137
  • College Type: Private

Tufts has a slim 16.1% acceptance rate. There is also a 9:1 student to faculty ratio at this university, creating a small, yet close culture. Their mascot, Jumbo the Elephant is very popular among their student-body and athletic programs.

 

26) Pomona College

  • Location: Claremont, CA
  • Student Enrollment: 1,663
  • College Type: Private

The top 4 most popular majors at Pomona are Economics, Mathematics, Biology, and Neuroscience. As you would guess, the student to faculty ratio and the class sizes are extremely small. It is also interesting to note that the average SAT and ACT scores for admitted students fall around the 95th percentile.

 

27) Claremont Mckenna College

  • Location: Claremont, CA
  • Student Enrollment: 1,349
  • College Type: Private

With a huge emphasis on academic achievement and athletic support, Claremont McKenna College was originally an all-boys college, but opened their doors to women in in the 70’s. For whatever reason, their men’s sports teams play as the Stags, while the women play as the Athenas.

 

28) University of California – Los Angeles

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Student Enrollment: 41,908
  • College Type: Public

At UCLA, the two most popular majors are Political Science and Psychology. They also have a phenomenal Economics program which is very popular among under-grads. The LA location is also a large factor in why students chose this University.

 

29) United States Military Academy

  • Location: West Point, VA
  • Student Enrollment: 4,348
  • College Type: Public

Students come to Army from all over the country to follow their code “a cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.” interestingly, the Cadets have a 93% first-year retention rate and an extremely small faculty to student ration, allowing for plenty of hands-on learning and engagement with USMA educators.

 

30) Carleton College

  • Location: Northfield, Minnesota
  • Student Enrollment: 2,105
  • College Type: Private

Carleton has a rural setting with a campus size of 955 acres. It utilizes a trimester-based academic calendar and ranks as the 8th best Liberal Arts College in the 2018 edition of Best Colleges. Tuition and fees hover around $52,782 a year.

 

31) United States Naval Academy

  • Location: Annapolis, MD
  • Student Enrollment: 4,525
  • College Type: Public

Located a little over 30 miles away from Washington D.C., Navy has an incredible 98% first-year retention rate and an 8:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Students love to support the blue and gold at their division one sporting events, including football and basketball.

 

32) University of Virginia

  • Location: Charlottesville, VA
  • Student Enrollment: 23,883
  • College Type: Public

UVA specializes in liberal arts studies and business as their students’ most preferred majors. They also have an amazing alumni association. Olympians, astronauts, and U.S. political leaders have all graduated from the University of Virginia.

 

33) Haverford College

  • Location: Haverford, PA
  • Student Enrollment: 1,233
  • College Type: Private

Haverford offers a wide variety of majors. The most popular include Psychology, Biology, Economics, and English. The average SAT scores range between 1,350-1,530.

 

34) Emory University

  • Location: Atlanta, GA
  • Student Enrollment: 13,788
  • College Type: Private
  • year or above

Heavily affiliated with the United Methodist Church, Emory is one of the oldest private Universities in the country. Emory specializes in Business Administration and Management.

 

35) Middlebury College

  • Location: Middlebury, VT
  • Student Enrollment: 2,558
  • College Type: Private

This liberal arts school has a competitive 17.4% acceptance rate and has an 8:1 student to faculty ratio. With a beautiful north eastern campus and close-knit community, Middlebury has a 97% first year retention rate, a great indicator of freshmen satisfaction.

 

36) United States Air Force Academy

  • Location: USAFA, CO
  • Student Enrollment: 4,111
  • College Type: Public

All cadets at Air Force participate in intercollegiate or intramural athletics, a specialized leadership curriculum, and an intense training program. The Academy’s mission is “to educate, train, and inspire men and women to become leaders of character, motivated to lead the United States Air Force in service to our nation.”

 

37) University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

  • Location: Chapel Hill, NC
  • Student Enrollment: 29,084
  • College Type: Public

UNC is tied with two other colleges as the oldest public university in the United States, dating back to 1795. Students can participate in over 550 officially recognized student organizations and are known for their talented sports teams, beautiful facilities, and strong social scenes and events.

 

38) Wellesley College

  • Location: Wellesley, MA
  • Student Enrollment: 2,510
  • College Type: Private

One of the original Seven Sisters Colleges, Wellesley is arguably one of the most famous women’s colleges in the world. Notable alumni include Katharine Lee Bates, Diane Sawyer, and Hillary Clinton. Their most preferred major is Economics.

 

39) New York University

  • Location: New York, NY
  • Student Enrollment: 50,027
  • College Type: Private

NYU is an extremely culturally diverse and international university that offers a wide variety of majors. They have campuses in Abu Dhabi, Shanghai, Accra, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Florence, London, Madrid, Paris, Prague, New York City, Sydney, and Washington D.C. NYU also has an impressive list of notable alumni, including CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, Olympians, heads of state, astronauts, and more.

 

40) Davidson College

  • Location: Davidson, NC
  • Student Enrollment: 1,784
  • College Type: Private

Known as the Wildcats, Davidson students have an average SAT score of 1,280–1,430. Their motto is “Let learning be cherished where liberty has arisen,” which is instilled among their high-achieving students and strong reputation.

 

41) Wake Forest University

  • Location: Winston-Salem, NC
  • Student Enrollment: 7,591
  • College Type: Private

Located just a few hours from the Blue Ridge Mountains and beaches of South Carolina, Wake Forest has a beautiful campus that offers intramural sports and plenty of outdoor trips.  Of the 6 schools that make up Wake Forest, the School of Law, School of Business, and School of Medicine are extremely competitive. Undergraduates are enrolled in either Wake Forest College or the business school.

 

42) College of William and Mary

  • Location: Williamsburg, VA
  • Student Enrollment: 8,484
  • College Type: Public

William and Mary has more than 30 undergraduate programs and more than 10 graduate and professional degree programs. Of their highly ranked grad schools, the first law school in the U.S. is one of them. William and Mary is also responsible for the nation’s first academic Greek society, Phi Betta Kappa.

 

43) Colgate University

  • Location: Hamilton, NY
  • Student Enrollment: 2,882
  • College Type: Private

Colgate’s academic departments and majors fall into one of four general divisions: humanities, natural sciences and mathematics, social sciences and university studies. Greek life plays a significant role in student life, representing nearly half of sophomores, juniors and seniors.

 

44) Boston College

  • Location: Chestnut Hill, MA
  • Student Enrollment: 14,354
  • College Type: Private

Boston College, founded in 1863 by the Society of Jesus is a Jesuit Catholic school that has been classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a university with high research activity. BC is made up of nine schools, including grad-programs, and competes in nearly 30 NCAA Division I varsity sports.

 

45) Lehigh University

  • Location: Bethlehem, PA
  • Student Enrollment: 7,119
  • College Type: Private

Lehigh is considered one of the twenty-four Hidden Ivies in the Northeastern U.S. They have four colleges: the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science, the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Business and Economics, and the College of Education. The College of Arts and Sciences is the largest, which roughly consists of 40% of their students.

 

46) Santa Clara University

  • Location: Santa Clara, CA
  • Student Enrollment: 8,680
  • College Type: Private

Santa Clara is the oldest currently operating institution of higher education in California and offers a wide variety of majors, as well as 17 varsity athletic programs competing at the division one program. Students at this highly selective school tend to have ACT scores between 27–32 and SAT scores between 1,220–1,410.

 

47) Vassar College

  • Location: Poughkeepsie, NY
  • Student Enrollment: 2,436
  • College Type: Private

Vassar college is a top-tier liberal arts college that offers over 100 clubs and organizations for students to get involved with. Almost all students live on campus in 1 of 12 resident halls. Vassar has a solid 90% four-year graduation rate, and a 94% first year retention rate.

 

48) Barnard College

  • Location: New York, NY
  • Student Enrollment: 2,573
  • College Type: Private

Barnard College is comprised of two schools, offering a small, yet strong liberal arts school and a large, coeducational Ivy League institution, both in NYC. Barnard is an all-female college in Manhattan with a co-ed partnership with Columbia University, across the street.

 

49) Bucknell University

  • Location: Lewisburg, PA
  • Student Enrollment: 3,625
  • College Type: Private

Bucknell, being a very diverse institution offers nearly 50 majors and over 60 minors. Bucknell’s most popular are Economics, Political Science, Accounting, Finance, and Biology. They have an impressive first year retention rate of 93%.

 

50) Colby College

  • Location: Waterville, ME
  • Student Enrollment: 1815
  • College Type: Private

Colby’s campus encompasses a wildlife refuge and is close in proximity to a preserved lakefront property for environmental studies. There are approximately 100 student-run clubs and organizations on campus, ranging from the Colby Ballroom Dance Club to the Society Organized Against Racism. More than one-third of students are members of Colby’s intercollegiate varsity sports teams, the Mules.

 

So there you have it, top 50 colleges and universities in the U.S. ranked by myKlovr. If you are still not sure what schools to apply to, check out our college finder to find your perfect match today!

 

Sources:

 

The Power of Surrounding Yourself with Positive and Like-minded Individuals

“Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers, and thinkers, but most of all, surround yourself with those who see greatness within you, even when you don’t see it in yourself.” – Steve Jobs.

For those who say that your success falls solely on your shoulders are wrong. If they weren’t, then Sociology wouldn’t be part of thousands of curricula across the nation, Malcom Gladwell’s The Outliers wouldn’t be a #1 National Best Seller, and the argument of Nature versus Nurture wouldn’t be discussed every other day in your Psychology class.

You’re a product of the social environment and culture that you are a part of.

The truth is that your success in the classroom or in the office falls on your shoulders, as well as those who you consistently choose to surround yourself with outside of the classroom or office. Being around a positive group of people who share similar goals and interests can be the single greatest catalyst to help you “make it…”

whether that might mean getting into the college of your dreams, making the JV basketball team, landing an internship or job, or simply passing a chemistry project that’s due tomorrow.

Actively look to place yourself around the people who live the lifestyle that you want… people who are going to help you get there. You might just learn some of your most important life-lessons from these people over a cup of coffee or long car ride.

I’ll give you an example of one of mine. My oldest brother, Pete, was once a Division I collegiate athlete, captain of his team, and bright and ambitious student in the classroom. It is no wonder that he is now a very successful lawyer… one of those positive individuals who seem to affect everyone around him by just believing in them.

One afternoon I was riding around in the passenger seat of his Jeep with him as he began lecturing me about his captainship. “I’m running sprints next to three of my teammates,” he said. “They’re winded and they’re dogging it. If I want to push them to get better, I need to know them. I need to know how to bring out the best in them, what works and what doesn’t with each teammate.

I speed up to the most gifted player in first place and make a remark about how he let someone as slow as me catch up to him. I slow down to the middle guy and tell him that he could be better than the first guy if he worked twice as hard. I slow down again to the last guy and tell him to try to finish the drill and beat his personal best time,” he said.

“We did this week after week. The guy who was in first place went on to be an All-American. The guy who was in second became a captain the following year. The guy in third earned the starting spot he waited his entire career for.”

Everything he said had gone right over my head. Years later I realized that he wasn’t boasting about himself or his teammates. He wasn’t talking about athletics at all.

He was trying to teach me the power of contagious emotion… how one individual can affect the rest of the environment, especially when that environment is comprised of likeminded individuals.

It is teammates, classmates, co-workers like Pete that serve as a catalyst to help those around them achieve success. No matter what grade you are in, or what stage of life you are about to endure, place yourself around individuals who are going to help you “get there.”

3 Tips for Incoming College Students

You are what you like

Attention class of 2018. Whether you are dying to start fresh with the next stage of your life, or you simply want to preserve a reputation that you built over the past 4 years, you are going to be presented with a plethora of opportunities to re-market yourself to a new network of peers.

As you enter college, your digital voice is about to exponentially grow. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, that new LinkedIn account that your parents told you to make, your school’s social education platform, you name it.

Regardless of the media outlet, be cautious of what content you are associating yourself with. Leave the childish or inappropriate retweets and likes in high school. Scratch that, don’t leave them there. Delete them.

You never know when they could be used against you. Conversely, liking, creating, or sharing inspirational and informative content that you want to be associated with is a great way of letting old friends know what you are up to, as well as marketing yourself to new ones.

 

Creativity is your new currency

As generation Z is growing up with far more technology and purchasing power than any other previous generation, more and more educational institutions are incorporating free-flowing and team-oriented creativity into their curriculums.

For example, take a glance at Bryant University, a small school in Smithfield, Rhode Island. Here at Bryant, each freshman, regardless of their intended major, endures a 3-day intensive program (16 hours each day) that attempts to maximize potential customers of a local business by improving their business plan and creating a prototype to be pitched to alumni.

Whether you like it or not, the design thinking process will most likely be part of your curriculum, and probably even more so, part of your career path. Use it to your advantage and start learning about the concept of innovation.

Many students compete against each other for the best grades and achievements while having many of the same skills. However, what students are failing to realize is that their ideas and creativity are the X factors to the tipping point of their success.

 

Be present

Thank you notes, networking emails, chatting with with professors after an interesting class… Anything you could think of to be present in the moment that you are in by communicating and learning from the people that you want to know a little bit better.

Although preparing for your future is imperative to educational and professional success, do not take your current opportunities for granted by failing to be attentive and present each day, each class, each moment.

The late Brian Fleury, former athletic director and mentor at Delbarton School, one of America’s most prestigious high schools in academics and in athletics once said, “Attitude. This is what I want to end with…please pay attention to how you approach each and every day of your life. Make the decision – and it is an individual, conscious decision – to be positive about the day ahead of you.

Like I talk to you about all the time, be present, be where you are, care about what you claim to care about, love the things you claim to love…”

How to be Supportive of your Child’s College Decisions

Okay, so she has her heart set on some impossibly selective college in the middle of nowhere in the woods of Maine. And it’s very expensive.

Should we even be supportive? Or should we be the responsible adults in the room and steer her elsewhere?

Location, ranking and finances are near the top of factors that will help us decide on the right college for our daughter. But what she wants remains at the top. So we don’t say no, but she sees us wince.

Sydney has applied to a couple of schools in Maine. We live in Los Angeles. The Maine schools aren’t near large airports so traveling to and from will be tough. But she really wanted to apply to these schools, so we supported that.

She is not keen on going to school in California, but she applied to several UC and CalState schools. Those schools will be significantly more affordable and obviously closer. Once she sees where she is accepted, the reality of travel will set in. Does she like the idea of coming home for a long weekend, or does being snowed in during a Maine winter sound more appealing?

Ranking is something she thinks about too. A lower ranked school may give her a lot of Merit money. Is it best to have your college paid for because you are in demand academically? Or is it better to go to a higher ranked college and pay more?

We certainly don’t want to make money a priority for her education, but it is a reality. My worry is that she’d fall in love with a school, apply, get in and then we couldn’t afford to send her.

When Sydney started looking at schools, we were careful to run our finances through the Net Price Calculator of each school to get an idea of what aid she might receive. One liberal arts college that she liked was rumored to be stingy with money and the Net Price Calculator confirmed that. In the end, Sydney took that one off her list and didn’t apply.

These hard questions will be answered soon when she receives her acceptance letters. We have tried to guide her this far and help her narrow her choices. She knows the financial aid will be a factor. But as a family, we feel all the schools will be manageable in one way or another. This morning my husband said it’s just hitting him that she actually might be going to college far away. Up until now, it’s been about selecting schools that seemed like good fits and hustling to get the applications in.

Part of me wants her to college nearby. But I know I didn’t want that when I was her age. We’ll support her decisions and hope she’ll be lucky and have a lot of choices.

What is a Liberal Arts Education? 

A cousin likes to blame my liberal beliefs on my liberal arts education. She’s wrong on two accounts: one, I went to a University and did not receive a liberal arts degree and two, I was a liberal before l even left high school.

So what exactly is a liberal arts education and why is it feared by some and revered by others? Why has a liberal arts education become something of a punching bag on the far right of American politics?

A liberal arts education tries to teach kids how to think, not what to think. This seems pretty straight forward to most, but it can be disturbing to people who believe that values must be taught, and society may be corrupted by “free thinkers” who question authority and disrespect traditional norms.

But that is not really a defining characteristic of liberal arts colleges in the United States, since most higher education institutions would also claim to teach kids to think for themselves. No, the differences are more in the way kids are taught, with liberal arts colleges being smaller and more focused on a general education emphasizing a wide range of subjects and skills, while large universities offer classes more focused on specific subject matter and solid preparation for professional work and specific graduate studies.

One major difference seems to be size. The big research universities have larger lecture classes, often taught by graduate students. Also because of their size, they offer a wider range of subjects and more facilities. For a student willing to research and seek out special teachers and sub-topics, a university can be a cornucopia of opportunity.

A liberal arts college will be more personal, often more able to guide students and nurture their general education through small classes with projects and discussion.

On a recent tour of an east coast liberal arts college this past Spring, our tour guide was proud to tell us she was the president of the Republican club and that she was planning to study tax law. That same college has it’s strong feminist history. So there is a wide range of politics in that one school.

My cousin is of the “Lord of the Flies” way of thinking, expecting that kids left without strict adult supervision are bound to fall into intellectual chaos and moral confusion. For some reason, that sounds “liberal” to her. But the fact is that liberal arts has become little more than a loose term for the humanities generally and for smaller colleges that focus on undergraduate studies, including the hard sciences.

My kids will be happy if they go to a university or a liberal arts college. They might even turn out to love tax law. Okay, that’s unlikely… but possible.

How Do I Help My Child Choose a Major… or Even a Career?

As a teenager, my father told me I had two career choices: dental hygienist or secretary. Both ideas filled me with fear, so much so that I made a point to never learn to type so there’d be no chance of becoming a secretary. My dad was a professional ballet dancer. When I was born, he became a dental technician to make money and never danced again. He wasn’t happy in his new profession, but he felt strongly that you couldn’t support a family as an artist.

I grew up watching a lot of TV and it occurred to me that maybe I could do one of the jobs listed in the end credits that ran after each show. I left Baltimore, went to NYU film school and then headed to Los Angeles. I am proud to say I have managed to make a career in the creative arts. I tried a “straight” job once. After college I briefly worked in a real estate office. I wore tight skirts and itchy sweaters, stockings and high heels. I never felt more uncomfortable. I moved from that job into a position at a scenic shop where I could wear paint covered clothes and work into the wee hours. I was lucky to find a career that suited me; I was not suited for a career in a suit.

My daughter is different than me. She is comfortable wearing a suit during debate tournaments and not interested in a career in the arts. Her brother, however, wants nothing but a career in the arts. He hates to dress up, unless it’s in a costume on a stage.

On the college tours we have gone on, administrators consistently tell students that college is a time to explore what interests them and during that exploration they might just discover something they’d never even thought about. Just yesterday at a luncheon sponsored by one of the schools my daughter is applying to, an alumnus explained how she went into college as a pre-med major, but discovered she was good at and passionate about economics. So she switched majors and went on to enjoy a successful career in economics.

I guess working in the arts has allowed me the freedom to explore many jobs, but not necessarily secure a paycheck during my early years of exploration. But I never feared that I couldn’t find a job. I had a strong education and wasn’t afraid to be unemployed.

I agree with the administrators that college is a time for exploration. Not many eighteen year-olds have a clear idea of what they want to do, nor should they. My attitude and lifestyle isn’t for everyone. But maybe I saw how changed my dad was after he stopped dancing. No matter what my kids wind up doing for their career, I hope they’ll always keep dancing.

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