The Importance of Looking at the Whole Picture When Selecting Colleges

Illustration by Sae Takaeuchi
Illustration by Sae Takaeuchi

By Matthew Choi, News Writer

Brown, Columbia, CornellDartmouth, Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, and Yale– these are the Ivy League Schools considered the best of the best, Yet in Korea, a culture has been started where parents only care about the name of the school and some of these top universities do not make the list. One has to wonder is it all about the name or is there more that students and parents should focus on when selecting a college and preparing for university?

Ms. Rogers, the College Counselor, hails from Georgia and has sent numerous students in her past workplace to these colleges. It’s no easy task to help send students to these elite schools that all Korean parents want their children to go. However, this brings up a core issue that is common among Korean students, choosing colleges because of their reputation in Korea, rather than the whole picture.

The phrase “don’t judge a book by it’s cover,” comes to mind when considering the manner in which Korean parents looks at the “cover” of universities. According to Collegeboard, the whole picture looks like taking into account test scores, selectivity, type of school, location, campus, schooling, majors, learning environment, sports, activities, academic credit, payment, support service, and ethic diversity. Furthermore, offers a College search which assists students in locating colleges and universities by meeting their expectations and preferences for what a university should deliver.

When asked if students should consider the prestigious name instead of considering the colleges internal factors such as size, location, majors, housing, clubs, support services, and atmosphere Ms. Roger responded, “I’m going to say they should not choose prestige.” Not necessarily implying that prestige did not matter, but simply that students should consider more than the name.

“Student should ask themselves what they are interested in because If you want to attend a school known for engineering, but you’re interested in fine arts,” then that school is not “going to be a good match to you.”

She continued by using the fine arts as an example to support her reasoning, “There might be other wonderful exemplary fine arts programs or known for their fine arts programs, but if you looking for name, you might overlook those [lesser known] schools. So 100 percent of the time I’m looking for the best fit for the student, and that’s the overall package.”

This overall package involved asking questions such as, “Is the location ideal for you? Do they have your intended major? Is the school a good fit for you, if you had the opportunity to visit (the school), can you see yourself there for four years?.”

Ms. Rogers mentioned, “I think that’s a really overlooked piece here is that the students tend to focus on the names of the school.”

Reflecting on the college fair that happened during SEW, Ms. Roger stated, “Berkeley was there, Michigan State was there, they were the busiest. The others [universities] were neglected, we had 28 other schools that were hoping students would come talk to them, and they didn’t have the name, and I think that’s so unfortunate, as they have wonderful things to offer.”

She said, if this college fair was held in the United States, the students would have considered most of these universities as “excellent names.”

Even though majority of seniors are looking towards U.S colleges, there more than several students that are looking at different countries, such as the United Kingdom and Hong Kong. To help out these students looking towards non-U.S schools, Ms. Rogers has invited several of these non-U.S universities, such as Oxford Brookes and Manchester, to visit GSIS and help students with the application that is involved. She has invited the Hong Kong university, HKUST, to come to school on Oct. 22, Cologne Business School to come on Oct. 27, University of British Columbia to come on Nov. 11, and Savannah College of Art and Design to come on Nov. 20.

Ms.Rogers also emphasised the point of researching one’s dream university not only to juniors and seniors, but also to freshmen and sophomores. She states that sophomore in particular should pay more attention to which DP courses they would require for the colleges they wanted to get into.