Today’s high school students are facing huge challenges to their college search. Too many students follow their friends to school or pick a university with a good reputation or go where they can root for their favorite football team. These aren’t inherently bad reasons to go to a school, but they don’t maximize students’ potential for a successful education.
Students can build a foundation for success by taking a more intentional approach to the college search, but it starts with a shift in mind-set. Here at The Unbranded Student, we believe college is not just an end in itself. When college is the ultimate goal, it sets students up to be disappointed and ill prepared for life after school. But when college is the means to an end, it becomes a tool students use to design the life they dream of beyond university. This is a perspective that not only helps students graduate from college, but also go to a college that is right for them—with less debt, in less time, and on a straightforward path to the life and career they dream of.
Using this approach to the college search, there are three things students must consider before they even think about what school is right for them.
Students need to know who they are. What makes them unique? What drives them? What are they good at? They need insight into their personality, skills, and interests so they can make an informed choice about the kinds of careers they’ll enjoy and thrive in. Personality tests like the Myers-Briggs, the Enneagram, and the Big Five can be a great starting point. Even the Building Blocks test we’ve developed is a good start. Take the parent assessment here, or access the student assessment here.
Going to college is a great experience in its own right. But to make the most of the educational tools offered at university, students should know why they’re pursuing the course of study they’ve chosen. What’s the driving force behind their chosen career path? Interest and passion for a subject are fulfilling in the short term. But imagine if your student could identify and articulate larger goals through a personal mission statement. They’d have a compass to navigate the bigger life and career questions waiting for them beyond college.
Once students know who they are and why they’re passionate about their career path, they should be asking what major could best prepare them for that career. When a student identifies the best major for their chosen career path, they’re giving themselves the best possible chance for success to step into the job market after graduation. This allows them to enter the workforce with the tailored knowledge, skills, and confidence they need to land that first job.
Set your student up for a successful college search by encouraging them to do this introspective work. This approach starts students out on the right foot. It’s intentional, measurable, and empowering. Best of all, it’s designed to remove the guesswork.
Finding answers to these three questions will give your student an invaluable head start: self-awareness. Armed with this self-knowledge, they’re ready to make the best decision about what school is right to help them achieve their goals.
If you like this approach to the college search and you’re looking for more tips and tools, check out The Unbranded Student book and the five-week online companion course.