December 27, 2013

Tough Questions to Ask When Choosing a College: What Connections Do YouHave in Other Cities?

By Jeangagnon (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Admissions letters are rolling in and hopefully that means a lot of good news. It also means it's time to make some tough decisions that will impact the rest of your life. When you take a tour of campus you'll inevitably hear all of the most attractive facts about campus and see all of the newest buildings. They are, after all, trying to sell you and convince you - the best and brightest admitted students- to come to campus. But if you're going to commit to spending the rest of your life as a student then proud alumnus of that school, you need to get to the real essence of what it's like to be a student there and get a degree with that college's name on it. So, yes you want ask the usual questions and look at the dorms, and see the classrooms, and learn about the clubs they offer. But asking the right questions will help you learn the information you might not think about that can make a difference in your success and happiness both on campus and after you graduate. This is the second in our new series aimed at helping you do that. Today, we're talking why you should give some thought to your post-college plans in order to help you choose the best school today. 

What kind of reputation and connections do you have in ______?

What's your bigger life plan here? I know that's hard to think about when you're 18 years old but do you have any idea where you want to try to live after you graduate, even a general idea? If you want to work in music, I'm guessing it might be a major city like New York, Los Angeles, or Nashville or perhaps even a place like Philadelphia, Miami, Chicago, or Seattle. Maybe you really want to move to London when you finish college? Maybe you're thinking you'd like to stay put in the city where you attend college so you can easily stay connected with campus and all of the amazing friends you'll be making when you're finally out on your own? Maybe you want to move back home to be near your family? Whatever it might be, consider those possibilities and ask what kind of reputation and connections your potential college has in that place. It might sound fantastic to go to a tiny arts college in the middle of nowhere, but will they be able to help when you want to make your move to the big city? Does that music school in the south have any alumni working in New York? Does that college in D.C. only have a reputation when it comes to politics or will it mean something when you apply for a job as a Talent Agent in Los Angeles? Can you see yourself moving to Nashville and potentially staying put for good? Of course, this question doesn't need to be a deal breaker if you love the school- but it should at least be something that you keep in mind. If a college has a wealth of connections locally but not-so-much in the city you dream of moving to someday, it may just mean working a little harder at networking or spending a summer interning in the city. Either way, this kind of information can impact your future job search but isn't usually broadcast to student until you're asked if you'd like to sign up for your local chapter of the alumni organization and suddenly you realize that no one has ever heard of that really prestigious school in the city where you've just moved.