The College Search

One of the most important lessons to be learned in this process is finding out who you are, what you value, what you know, and what you believe. These investigations are at the center of your education, and indeed, they should remain central throughout your life. Therefore, probing these questions at the beginning of the college process is a necessary component to your search. There are more than 1500 four-year colleges and universities in the United States alone, so you are in the enviable position of being able to create a list of colleges that suit you. Don’t put the cart before the horse and choose a list of colleges for reasons that have little to do with your own needs—i.e., your parents went there, they have a great football team, Princeton Review said it was a "hot school." These may indeed become factors in your decision down the line, but first you need to assess your own reasons for choosing a college.

Self Assessment

The following questions are intended to guide you in making this self-assessment, and discussing the answers with your parents, teachers, college counselor and mentors will help you to match your talents, needs and abilities with the right college. Everyone is different, and there is no magic formula to selecting the right college. Before you start picking schools, however, put serious consideration into the following:

List of 4 items.

  • Your activities and interests

    • What activities have claimed your time outside the daily routine of school and other responsibilities? Which have meant the most to you? Looking back, would you have made different choices?
    • Do your activities show any pattern of commitment, competence or contribution? What do you consider your most significant contribution?
    • How would others describe your role in your school or home community?
    • What are your favorite ways to spend free time? How would you spend an uncommitted Saturday?
  • Your goals and values

    • What aspects of Peddie have you enjoyed the most?
    • How do you define success?
    • What kind of person would you like to become?
    • Is there anything you have secretly wanted to do or be?
    • What events or experiences have shaped your growth and way of thinking?
  • Your learning style

    • How would you describe Peddie? How has this environment encouraged you to develop your interests, talents and abilities? To take intellectual risks? What would you preserve or change about Peddie if you had the power to do so?
    What aspect of your Peddie classroom experience have you found most rewarding?
    • Which courses have you enjoyed most? Which have been most difficult? What areas of study would you like to try in college which were not available in high school?
    • What do you choose to learn when you can learn on your own? Consider topics chosen for research papers and independent projects, independent reading, school activities, job or volunteer work. How do these choices reflect your interests and the way you like to learn?
    • How do you learn best? What methods of teaching engage your interest and effort the most? Do you prefer structure and clear expectations, or lots of leeway for creativity and interpretation? Do you profit most from a lecture format, small group discussion, reading text on your own, doing hands-on projects?
    • What has been your most stimulating intellectual experience in recent years? How interested are you in the substance of intellectual life: books, ideas, issues and discussion? What is your attitude toward studying -- enthusiasm, toleration, avoidance?
    • Are there any outside circumstances (in your recent experience or background) which have interfered with your academic performance? Consider such factors as an after-school job, home responsibilities or difficulties, excessive school activities, illness or emotional stress, parental pressure, English not spoken at home, course scheduling conflicts or other factors which are unique to you.
  • Your personality and relationships

    • How would someone who knows you well describe you? Your finest qualities? Your most conspicuous shortcomings? How have you grown or changed during your high school years?
    • How would you describe your family? Your home town? How have these influenced your way of thinking and your goals? How have your interests and abilities been nurtured or limited?
    • Which relationships are most important to you and why? In what ways are they similar to or different from you?
    • What is your social style? Do you prefer solitude, one-on-one, small groups, large parties? Do you see yourself more as an initiator, follower, or in-between?
    • How do you respond to pressure, competition or challenge? How important is recognition, praise, moral support? How do you react to failure, disappointment or criticism?
    • How do you feel about choices and making decisions for yourself? What are the best decisions you have made recently? Which would you do differently? How much do you rely on direction, advice or guidance from others? Do you prefer the tried-and-true or the new-and-intriguing?
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