What is college for?

All this college preparation, all the associated anxiety, all the information-seeking and financial planning and candidacy strengthening that’s so ingrained in today’s families, it might make sense to stop occasionally and ask, “What is college for?”

More specifically, what is college for for you? Is it so you can get a good job after college? Is it so you can find your path in life? Is it so you can have four years of new friends, learning, and experiences?

There’s no universal right answer that fits every student. Your background, goals, finances, etc. can shape a lot of what exactly college will be for you.

But when students really dig into this question and answer it honestly, they often come to one or both of two conclusions:

1. The colleges they’re considering don’t closely match what they’re going to college for.
2. Dozens of other colleges—potentially far less selective (or expensive)—exist that could give this student exactly what they’re looking for.

You’ll probably find and get accepted to more of the right colleges for you if you start by asking, “What’s college for?”