May 6, 2024
By Leanne Soulard

I love this time of year. Seniors have decided (well, almost, given this year’s FAFSA delays) where they will attend college and are looking forward to graduation, and juniors are exploring colleges, building their initial lists, and excitedly visiting campuses. But excitement for the future can create blind spots that prevent us from seeing certain realities about the world. This is especially true when it comes to college admissions.

Growing up in New England, and Boston especially, is a blessing and a curse for students. The concentration of highly prestigious colleges and universities is almost absurd and creates a false narrative about what “a good college” is for many. If you’ve read some of my other posts then you know that one of my least favorite phrases is “a good college,” as in:

“You need to be competitive if you want to get into a good college.

“You need to take all honors and AP classes if you want to get into a good college.

“You need to join a bazillion clubs and organizations, and be captain of all your sports teams if you want to get into a good college.

“You need to perform thousands of community service hours if you want to get into a good college.

And my personal not-favorite:

A good college has a really low acceptance rate.”

As juniors begin to hone their college lists, the well-meaning adults in their lives must be careful not to perpetuate this great myth that the prestige of a school is equal to the quality of the education it provides. This is why at College Edge we define “a good college” as one that is a right fit for each student’s academic, social, and financial means and goals. The vast majority of colleges admit more than 50 percent of applicants and it has been proven time after time that academic prestige does not necessarily correlate to career or financial success. Nor does it relate to the quality of education a student receives—several “good colleges” have suffered public humiliation for gaming the rankings with unsubstantiated and false data.

Parents, one of the most supportive things you can do to keep your child’s stress low and enthusiasm for the future high is to take a step back and think about the language you are using when it comes to opining about the colleges on their list. Just because you’ve never heard of it doesn’t mean it’s not a good college or a right fit for your student. Encourage your child to find all the right fit colleges they can by being curious about the lesser-known schools your student may uncover. Maybe plan a road trip to one or two of them. There are a lot of hidden gems out there!

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