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Answers to Your College Questions

Are Nontraditional Ways of Choosing a College Better Than Traditional Ones?

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In a recent New York Times op-ed piece, “How to Choose a College,” Frank Bruni discusses the question that plagues millions of high school seniors and their parents every year. The author’s basic premise is that we should look beyond traditional criteria when selecting a school. I agree with this statement, but I have mixed feelings about the criteria he suggests—for example, the percentage of students who study abroad and the number of students who are from foreign countries. While exposure to global influences is important, should these criteria matter more than, say, the percentage of applicants a school admits, or what the tuition is? Bruni also recommends that students choose a school outside of their comfort zone, to seek diversity and new experiences. This can be great advice for many young adults, but it may lead others to select a school that isn’t right for them.

What do you think?

In your opinion, what are the most important criteria for choosing a school?

Did you approach your college selection the way Mr. Bruni recommends? If so, what was or has been your experience at the school you chose?


Stefanie Weisman is the author of The Secrets of Top Students: Tips, Tools, and Techniques for Acing High School and College, which will be released in May, 2013.

For more resources on choosing a college, visit the College Countdown Bookstore.

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Stefanie Weisman became the valedictorian of Stuyvesant High School in 1999 and went on to study history at Columbia University. She was awarded the Albert Asher Green Prize for having the highest GPA in her class. After working for several years in corporate America, she got her M.A. in the history of art and archaeology. She was a Craig Hugh Smyth fellow at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts. Around this time, Weisman developed an interest in technology and returned to Columbia to get a B.S. in computer science.

Weisman is the author of The Secrets of Top Students.