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Designing the "Perfect" College

  1. Gather 24 note cards. Parents and student should each have their own set of 12 cards.

  2. On the back of each card, write down the specific area, behavior, or action which occurs to you as you think of each category. (Do not share your ideas with each other yet.) Use the following suggestions as a guide:

      A. Geographic Location: Skiing? Ocean? Warm? Exposure to new parts of the country? Close to home?

      B. Cost: tuition?

      C. Size of College: Small? Large? Large or small classes? Housing availability?

      D. Prestige: Ivy League? Will I get in? Can I stay?

      E. Academic Programs: Is my major offered? Number of faculty in major? Breadth of courses?

      F. Surrounding Community: Large urban city? Rural? Safety? Transportation?

      G. Sports: Division I? Strong intramurals? Could I play?

      H. Social Atmosphere: Orientation program? Residential? Commuter? Political? Party atmosphere? Sororities and fraternities?

      I. Religious Orientation: Loose historical affiliation? Required religion courses? Strong emphasis?

      J. Student Body: Single sex? Coed? Diverse or homogeneous? Large geographic representation?

      K. Extracurricular Opportunities: Newspaper vs. journalism class? Plays open to non-drama major? Debate? Music opportunities available for non-music majors?

      L. Academic Atmosphere: Challenging? Intense? Relaxed? Supportive? Scholarly vs. career oriented?

  3. Rank the cards in order of importance to you. Arrange the cards so that you place the card with the most importance to you on the top and the card with the least importance on the bottom.

  4. Discard those cards in which you have no interest.

  5. Discuss how the parents' cards compare with the student's cards. How do your rankings compare with schools where you are thinking of applying?

Contributed By:

R. Fred Zuker, Ph.D.
University of Dallas
Dean of Undergraduate Admission,
Financial Aid and Student Life

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