Summer Intern Says Find Your Own Way to College

I had a great talk the other day with Alissa, our summer intern and former Wow student.  She reminded me why it is so important that parents allow children to find their own way to college.

“A lot of times, kids just apply to schools their parents like, and they dismiss the good, small private colleges,” Alissa said.  “Kids have to make their own choices and find colleges that are the best for them.”

By anyone’s standard, Alissa chose her schools well. Like many academically gifted students, Alissa dreamed of D.C.’s coveted Georgetown, a prestigious university in an exciting city. Wait listed twice, and then rejected, she was smart enough to know she needed more choices.

In the end, Alissa had acceptance letters to more good schools than many of her peers — Michigan, Bard, Hampshire, Johns Hopkins and Kalamazoo College. For her, none would have been a poor choice, and the decision was grueling. It came down to Hopkins, which was large and had a stellar reputation, and Hampshire, a small, liberal arts college off the beaten path.

One last college visit to each helped her make the final choice: Hampshire. Hopkins classes were huge; Hampshire seemed more personal. Alissa discovered Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, while reading a book called Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Colleges That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges.’ It had the right feel for her.

Hampshire is small, yet also part of a five-college consortium, meaning Alissa will be able to take classes at four other great schools – Amherst, Mount Holyoke, Smith and the University of Massachusetts – not too shabby!

As a bonus, Alissa’s package of scholarships, based on need and merit, was quite generous, making her total cost less than in-state tuition at a Michigan public university.

She found her way; can you find yours?