How Should Students Define “Success” When it Comes to the College Search?

For a typical college admissions office, success comes down to a pretty simple equation. Did we enroll enough students, who are paying enough money, to hit our revenue target? Any college or university can answer that question almost as soon as the fall semester kicks in.

For college-bound students and families, college admissions success is a whole different animal. Because college admissions success has to translate into college success, or it’s hard to think of the whole college search as anything other than a bust.

What makes for college success? Three things.

  1. College success requires intellectual, emotional, and social growth. It’s a lot more than just showing up and passing classes.
  2. All that growth has to culminate in a college degree (earned in four years or less instead of six years or more) AND an impressive resume of experiences beyond the classroom
  3. Life after college, and the range of opportunities that are realistically available, aren’t hampered by the debt accumulated during college.

So how does all of that translate into determining college search “success”?

Most importantly, it means that college search success can’t just be about getting accepted to a college that everyone you know has heard of. Just getting in doesn’t mean anything without earning a degree, growing in all sorts of ways, and launching into adult life with no financial constraints.

Genuine college search success means that the college you choose positions your student to hit that trifecta. No more, no less. It means that the college you choose understands how to fuel growth and learning across all of the dimensions that make for a successful adult. It also means that the college you choose knows how to graduate students efficiently. And finally, it means that the college you choose isn’t charging an arm and a leg.

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