When "Best" May Not Be "Best" for You

The U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges for 2011 (but it's only 2010) has hit the street (and, no doubt, the desktops of America's college-bound students).

Harvard and Princeton duking it out for top honors. Poor Yale, always in the show position. Not to mention Duke.

List upon list of "Bests." Best National Universities. Best Regional Universities. Best Public Universities. Best for Engineering (of all sorts). Best Business Schools. And the lists go on and on and on.

So how does one quantify "Best?" Oh, they'll lay out a methodology, mind you, but can it all be reduced, qualitatively, to a list? Numbers. Statistics. Damned lies?

Remove the "Best Colleges" lists from their anointed post, reducing them to the stature of, say, a list of "Best Ice Cream" or "Best Running Shoe," and you will instantly be able to qualify the results. Best for whom?

Clearly, what is "best" is subjective, not objective. Your mileage, as they say, will definitely vary!

No single college or university is the perfect fit for any particular student. Which school is "best" for you is dependent upon more variables that U.S. News could possibly conceive, let alone reduce to a mere list.

Do you favor big universities or small colleges? City campuses, suburban settings, or no campus at all? Does the so-called "Best College" offer the "Best Programs" and "Best Courses" to pique your interests and meet your needs? And which college has the best mattresses? Best toilet paper? Best placed electrical outlets?

You get the idea.

Selecting the best college for you, matching school with persona, is surely serious business for the college-bound, and by no means an easy task. Look over those lists, of course, but take them with much more than a grain of salt. They are, at best (pun intended), a guidepost offering but some insight into how a college or university is perceived. At worst, and most lists are just that, they are someone else's perspective of which college or university is "best."

For bragging rights, nothing beats topping the rankings. Just remember, as with rankings for college basketball, they don't always hold true come "Sweet Sixteen" or the "Final Four."

Create your own list, or several. Do your research. [The Internet makes it simple.} Visit colleges. Ask questions. Consult with your guidance counselor and independent college planning counselor. Then find the college that truly is "best" for you!
- - -
Speaking of lists, here's a cute piece by Linda Holmes at NPR/Monkey See entitled, Do College Students Really Think Beethoven Is A Dog?

The lists go on. And so will you!

E-mail The College Whisperer at info@TheCollegeWhisperer.com.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of The College Whisperer.
* * *
Comments? Questions for The College Whisperer?
Write us at info@TheCollegeWhisperer.com

The road to college begins at College Connection.