What to look for in a college

Alyssa Willis, Kappa Omicron Nu Student Blogger

Preface: Undergraduate student colleagues, we are in a unique position to mentor and recruit promising high school students into our fields. I invite you to join me in innovating and leading this endeavor to advance the long-term strength of human sciences.

This is a message to seniors in high school. As a senior you have reached a point in life of both excitement and anxiety. Finally, you are the old and experienced student that seems to know everything about the school. The world is in your hands as you are about to end one legacy and begin to enter the new realm of the college world. But which college are you going to choose? How do you decide where to go when there are so many excellent options?

Obviously, there are significant factors such as reputation in your chosen area, location, tuition cost, campus aesthetics, and of course success rate in finding relevant future employment after obtaining a degree. But even with those criteria, there is likely a short list of potential institutions that warrant closer investigation. So what becomes an important but not necessarily obvious element to consider?

Recently, I attended two of my college’s Open House events that are designed to make high school seniors want to come to our school. The Open House included a campus tour and seminars by key faculty from departments of interest to answer everyone’s questions. At the event, I was asked to speak on behalf of the Family and Child Studies department to talk about my personal experiences as a student and try to help both high school students and their parents understand why Montclair State University is a great choice.

After first listening to the adviser of my department talk about what Family and Child Studies has to offer, I picked up on one of his main points as the reason I have continued to thrive at college. This would be passion. When first choosing a major, you have to decide if what you are studying is something you can be passionate about for the majority of your life. I have always been passionate about teaching and working with families. However, as a student I found that it is even more important to see how passionate my professors are about their jobs and what they are teaching. My professors have continuously been examples and mentors for me. If they were not passionate about their work, I believe it would resonate with the classroom environment and negatively affect my experience as a student.

At the Open House, I was able to tell parents and students about my current involvement and accomplishments as an undergraduate. Reflecting back on this experience, I realized that my accomplishments relied heavily on the support, recognition, and motivation my professors have and continue to give to me. Although as a senior in high school it is almost impossible to meet the professors you will be learning from in the next few years, there is still the opportunity to meet with advisers and other faculty from the desired department. That is the key time to see how passionate faculty members are about what they do. I absolutely believe that a large part of college is about self-motivation. However, faculty can play a large influence on the enjoyment that can be had in the classroom. After my experiences with Open House events, I realize that there are many key factors to look for when choosing a college, and I strongly believe passion should be the most important factor of all.