What Are Your Top College Picks?

Wow Intern Alissa Graff found Hampshire College in the book Colleges That Change Lives.

It’s that time of year again: Time for juniors to start thinking about college.

Perhaps your heart is set on the school where your parents met, or maybe you want to go to a big state university with your best friend.

There is a college for everyone; the best fit for you could be a school you’ve never even heard of. So do your research, and take some advice from someone who has been there.

Former Wow student and summer intern Alissa Graff is finishing up her freshman year at Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass. Hampshire is part of the Five College Consortium (along with Amherst, Mount Holyoke, Smith College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst). The consortium offers five times the resources you’d expect at a small college; students have access to all five campuses and can take classes at any of the schools.

So how did Alissa land at Hampshire?

“I read a lot of literature about a lot of different places,” Graff said, adding that the book Colleges That Change Lives steered her toward Hampshire. “CTCL provides one of the most raw and honest discussions about colleges, and is immensely helpful in narrowing down schools.”

Graff advises college-bound students to be careful about relying on a school’s name and reputation.

“A big, fancy, well-known name doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for you,” she said. “A lot of big-name schools are not very personal, but do have good programs in specific areas.”

While she was accepted to the University of Michigan, Kalamazoo College, Johns Hopkins and a few other top schools, Alissa liked Hampshire best. It felt right. It was smaller and off the beaten path.

“The beauty of CTCL is that it looks for the diamonds in the rough.  For people interested in something different and unique, CTCL is the place to look.”

Many small, liberal arts schools have nice endowments, so don’t write them off.  Hampshire offered Graff quite a bit of money. She feels at home at Hampshire and has no regrets.

For more about Colleges That Change Lives, check out the CTCL website.