The Atlantic recently ran an ambitious series on college admissions-related topics. I immediately gravitated to the interview with Edward Fiske, editor of the most popular and most well-thought-of college guide, Fiske Guide to Colleges.
Fiske begins the interview by stating that the biggest mistake parents make, at least in the beginning of the process, is not understanding the importance of "fit." We're too worried about our kids getting into the prestigious school -- whether it's the right school for our kids is not important.
Changing one's mindset isn't easy. And unfortunately the US News & World Report college rankings play right into that sort of thinking. As he puts it, these rankings answer the question, "What's the best college?" But the question should be, "What's the best college for me?" He gives kudos for the amount of data collected for the reports, but suggests that it would be much better if the data were used by a student who had his own weighting system.
The good news he shared? Fiske thinks that colleges are doing a far better job orienting kids to college through special programs and seminars. And he has found that colleges as a whole are paying far more attention to undergraduate research.
Nobody's bragging about party schools anymore. Now that's a huge improvement!