College success is about the right fit. Every student has different needs from an institution, and no two people’s needs will be satisfied in the exact same manner. This makes it extremely important that you identify which needs are important to you and seek out institutions that fit that description.
There are more than 4,000 colleges and universities in just the United States alone, and it would be impossible to explore all the possible options in just one academic year. Getting a head start is the best start. Use your friends, family members, teachers, and counselors to help you get on the right track.
Visit schools. Campus visits have proven to be the number one method for students deciding whether a campus is the right fit. Don’t assume because you are an African American student that any Historically Black College or University will work for you. All campuses have different cultures based on geographic location, student body, and other factors. If you started exploring colleges later than you care to admit, take this opportunity to pull up your younger friends and get them started earlier.
Keep Your Mind Fresh by Reading
Identify some form of writing you can follow on a regular basis. Maybe it’s the local newspaper. Perhaps you’ll find an author whose works intrigue you. Have you ever considered reading the monthly issue of Black Enterprise magazine? Whatever the path may be, you’ve got to keep your mind in shape. Reading new things on a regular basis exposes you to new vocabulary. This will come in handy when preparing for standardized tests or even placement exams once you enroll at the college or university of your choice. Regular reading exposes you to new ideas. It will help make you a knowledgeable and strong contributor to classroom discussions; it broadens your perspective on a myriad of subjects.
Seek Understanding, Not Just Information
Ask questions that help add character to a campus. Look beyond the colorful brochures, exquisite architecture, and matching t-shirts. Who needs to know how many volumes the campus library hosts? I doubt you’d be willing to read all 80,000 of them. I cannot tell you how many times a starry-eyed high school student has asked me about the student to teacher ratio at our institution. I always give the proper statistic, but then I challenge the student to tell me how that helps him or her make an informed decision about college. A ratio of 18 to 1 simply means there is one faculty member for 18 students on campus. It does not mean there are only 18 students per class. A campus with 16,000 students can easily have a student to teacher ratio of 18 to 1. It is still likely, though, that same campus will have lectures with 300 students or an average class size of 50 students.
Remember, college success is about the right fit. Seek out information that helps determine if a campus is the right fit for you.