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This post is the beginning of a series of posts on how to research a college that will be a best fit for your student.
I’m actually going to do something I’ve never done before. I’m going to diary what I’m doing as I research some colleges for my 2nd daughter. I thought it might be helpful to someone to see my process.
Where do you start when researching a best-fit college?
Where to start for college research?
A good starting point before researching colleges, is to consider what major your student might want to pursue. This doesn’t have to be set in stone, but a guideline. The reason I do this is it gives me a particular area to check into at the colleges we are considering. It’s helpful to know what she might start out with. This also gives us ideas for good electives in the later high school years, as we explore different career fields. And I’d hate for her to choose a college and then find out later that it didn’t have her top major.
For example, my oldest daughter decided she was interested in science and chemistry and possibly drug or cancer research. We used that information to do our college research and ended up with a great fit at University of Mississippi. She even did research with a professor for a couple of semesters. But she decided she was more interested in the communication and marketing side to healthcare, so she has changed her major from research to communication for public health.
YouScience Is Your Friend
This same daughter took the survey at YouScience. This great website has a survey that you take and it tells you all about your aptitudes, strengths, and weaknesses. It also matches you to career fields. I looked at the results some, but I really should have studied it more thoroughly.
You can take the survey for $29. I recommend doing it during 9th-10th grade so you have to time to check into any interests by taking high school electives in 11th or 12th.
Now, looking back at the results, I find it quite interesting.
Knowing her now as a 20 year old, I have found the aptitude section to be really accurate for who she has turned out to be. It was also interesting comparing my oldest two daughters and seeing how accurate the results were regarding their extremely different personalities.
The Aptitude/Interests Test
One of my favorite sections in her aptitude/interests test is called “Impact on Daily Life – Work.” In this section, it talks about the type of work that she might be gifted in. Some key points it mentions for her are:
work that explores new ideas
work that allows you to interact with and help others
work that requires high energy and taking risks
work that involves writing, publishing, or public speaking
work that does not involve a lot of detailed clerical tasks
Can you see how this would show me that marketing, public relations, or communication in a health-care related field might be a better choice than being a research scientist in a lab all day? I think it’s amazing.
Careers Section of the Results
In the Careers section of the test, you can see which careers it thinks you are best matched for. You can then select the career you are interested in, read what a day in the life would be, and find out how many jobs that career is projected to have in 10 years and what the average salary would be. There’s much more to it than that, but these are the things I find fascinating.
My second daughter was interested in computer science or possibly computer engineering. So we enrolled her in a Dual Enrollment class in computers and she ended up taking 3 computer classes. She did very well in them. But she came home and said, “Mom. I don’t want to do this every day for the rest of my life. I hate sitting in front of the computer all day long.”
So I had her take the survey at YouScience. Then she sent me what her favorite matchups were for a career. Here’s her list:
Strong overall fit:
Clinical nurse specialist
Emergency medical technician or paramedic
Good overall fit:
Critical care nurse
Sports medicine physician
Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselor
See how different that is compared to computer science. I think it fits her personality better also. So we are going to pick things like pre-physical therapy, sports medicine, health science, and exercise science when we begin looking at colleges. We will look at colleges that have options in these areas. The more the better so if she needs to tweak it a little from one field to the other, she will have choices.
Try it Out!
That’s what I think is the first step for college research. Take the survey and pick a few career choices that seem to fit you the best. Use this when you start trying to research the best college for your student.
I can’t wait to hear if you try out YouScience. Let me know how it goes!
Here’s the link to the next post in this series on college research.