What Will You Do Once You Get There?

By Lea on July 21, 2020 0 Comments

I recently asked Aya, an undergrad entering her fourth year of studying mathematics, what she knows now that she wishes she had known when applying to college. Without missing a beat, she got to the heart of what I have been impressing upon my students: look thoroughly at the majors and courses offered in your areas of interest at each school you are considering applying to. This can tell you a lot about a school and the educational programs in specific departments. 

Aya shared, “I think I’d like to have known that looking at specific professors’ research tells you a lot about the interests of the department you’re going into. This is helpful to know if you want to do research, which many undergrads do, even if you’re not interested in grad school.” 

When researching colleges that teach economics, for example, find out if the department is in the business school, in the school of arts and sciences or some other specialty school within the university. This will give you a sense of the major coursework and areas of the faculty’s expertise. If you want to go to law school and are interested in economic policy and law, the economics program in the business school might not be right for you. Another good example is in the case of engineering schools. They come in many shapes and sizes and have a wide-range of program designs and pedagogical philosophies ranging from theoretical and research-oriented to a more hands-on learn-by-doing approach. Also, not all schools offer every concentration within the field of engineering, and some require a year of pre-engineering before declaring a major. Details like these matter when determining if a school is a good fit for you.

Summer is a great time for you to put a college research plan in place. Your plan should include: when you will research, for how long, what schools, as well as what key factors you want to learn about each school/program. It is fun to imagine all the possibilities that lie ahead. Carving out dedicated time each week for exploration and research leads to a clearer idea of your interests, preferences, and the experiences that can be part of a college education. Even small steps make a difference when it comes time to choosing the best fit college for you. Take it from me, or better yet, take it from Aya.

Think as much about what you will do once you’re in college as where you will go. 

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