Why are you going to college?

Seriously, why do you even want to go to college?

I'm not suggesting that you shouldn’t go.  But most people never stop to ask themselves
this basic question.  And it’s an
important one, especially if you want to find–and get in to–the right school.

For example, look at these different responses to the
question, “Why college?”

  1. Because I have to know more about physics.
  2. Because I want to be a journalist, and I have to go to college to do that.
  3. Because I want to be able to study exactly what interests
  4. Because I want to meet new people and have new experiences.
  5. Because if I don’t go, my parents will give my room to my
    brother and make me live in the attic.  I don't want to live in the attic.  It's scary up there.   

These are very different answers, and you probably have your
own.  Or maybe you’ve never really
thought of it before and you’ll need some time to consider it.

That’s what makes the college search difficult.  For most high school students, picking a
college is like entering into an arranged marriage without dating.  You can’t be expected to know everything you
want from a college experience, because a lot of what you’ll inevitably take
away from college will be the things you never expected to find.

Nevertheless, your reasoning for wanting to go to college is
central to picking a school.  If you want
to meet a variety of different people, you probably shouldn’t go to a commuter
school near your home.  If you have no
idea what you want to study or what you want to do with your life, don’t go to
a school with exclusively pre-professional programs.

I don’t expect that you will read this entry and have a perfectly defined answer to the question, “Why college?”  It’s part of the continuous college
soul-searching process that you need to do. 
So, as you go through your college search, keep asking yourself why you
are going in the first place.  This will
help you stay focused on the big picture. 

And when the colleges you eventually choose ask you to explain how they ended up on your list, you'll have a much more thoughtful, revealing answer than the standard, "Um, it's a good school."