What are your values?

How cool is this?  A guide to colleges that “gets” what’s really important-looking at all the facets of college life and determining which colleges/universities are the best fit for you.
“This is a guide to 286 U.S. colleges and universities that have demonstrated an exemplary commitment to sustainability. While it differs from our Best Colleges guidebooks in that it does not report information based on our surveys of students attending the schools, it very much embodies our philosophy that finding your “best fit” school means looking at everything from the school’s academic offerings to its extracurricular options and now, even its commitment to going green.”

Regardless of whether you consider yourself “green” and what to check out the colleges listed in the report… You absolutely want to be thinking through what is important to you.

And so, what are your values?  What’s important to you?

Learning  & Achievement… Working hard…

  • What opportunities exist for students in class and beyond the classroom?
  • Does talk about school work take place after class too?  Can you engage in research?
  • Are there avenues for pursuing your goals and being recognized for your work?

Playing hard…

  • What do you love to do during your free time?
  • What kinds of extracurriculars are offered?
  • What is there to do off campus and how easy is it to get there (wherever “there” is)?


  • How much freedom do you have academically and personally?
  • Are you interested in study abroad?  What are your options?
  • What is the college administrators’ vision of the students?  What are the unspoken rules of the community?


  • What the composition of the student body, professors and staffs?
  • How big or small is the campus/community?

Connection/Close working relationships with peers, professors and/or local community

  • What is the student to professor ratio in classes?
  • Who teaches the classes-professors and/or grad students?
  • What connection is there with the local community?


  • What do you think of honor codes (re:  academic work, tests, etc).at college?  Do you want to be in an environment where that’s a paramount value?

Bottomline: What are your values?  How do you see them in action at the campuses you are visiting?  The college community will be your home for four years… you need to feel comfortable, stimulated, challenged, a part of it.


To continue the conversation… What do you expect and want from a college that you’re visiting?  How can the college community-students, professors, administrators-demonstrate who they are and what they value so you can make an informed decision about the environment that’s right for you?

Last week, at Clark University’s Admitted Student Open House prospective students had opportunities to:

  • Meet the members of the community (in this instance, the president to be, an assistant director of admissions, the student council president and another Clark administrator)
  • Get their questions answered by the current students, professors, admissions’ and financial aid staffs, and alumni
  • Learn/Attend session led by professors
  • Eat some the cafeteria’s food (don’t laugh-don’t you want to know what it’s like?)
  • Explore student clubs and organizations
  • Discover special programs, study abroad options, and the college in the Worcester community
  • Walk the campus, and check out the facilities… begin to feel whether Clark is the best fit for them

And, parents had time to do much of the same:  they had the time to look, to listen, to learn about the environment, and attend a session just for parents.

I think there were great opportunities to understand the breadth and depth of the university.  So, in thinking about and perhaps visiting the colleges that have accepted you, in your effort to make a fully conscious decision:  What do you think?  What do you want to know?  What will you look for?  These are the most important questions; I hope that you develop your answers using your head and your heart.


Last Saturday was a COLD end-of-March day.  I had been hoping for warmer weather… but I have to say it really didn’t matter because it was so fantastic to be on campus and meeting prospective students and their parents.  I love the feel of Clark University-though that’s really not what I want to talk with you about… I want to ask seniors* who are about to make decisions about where they want to spend the next four years…

  • How will you decide?
  • What’s important to you?
  • What are you looking and listening for on campuses as you visit-whether it’s for the first time or the last time-before you make your decision? (Or, what are you looking for on the colleges’ websites and in conversations with current students and alumni?)

You have some time to make a decision.  I’d like to suggest that you choose with your head and your heart.  Reflect on who you are:  what you need and want in an environment so that you are both comfortable and challenged to do your best work and have a great time!  Good luck!

*  These are great  questions for juniors too, as you begin visiting campuses.

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