Choosing a college presents a myriad of decisions for students — cost, academics and population are just a few crucial factors to consider. It is easy to overlook a college’s administrative structure and leadership style when debating the future of one’s academic career.
Though there are a plethora of choices to ponder during the college application process, prospective students should be aware of the campus climate of schools they are considering. While the onus should not be entirely on the students to investigate a school’s political atmosphere, critically analyzing the current events of a college can allow them to see how the school treats its constituents.
Higher education in the United States is a business. Schools will market themselves through favorable reviews, pleasant images and flattering advertisements. A college is far less likely to illuminate its flaws than it is to sell glowing promotions. Attracting students, and their money, involves more flattery than honesty at times. Ideally, it would be great if colleges were more transparent with their issues, but it should be expected that schools are less likely to shine a light on their troubles. Who would pick a struggling college versus one that appears to be perfect?
Now that most admissions efforts have shifted to a virtual format due to the pandemic, it can be even more difficult for prospective students to engage with campus life. There is understandably a desire to see the campus in person and interact with students. However, it is troubling that there has been a noticeable increase of prospective students and families on campus. People traveling from outside of the county put students, faculty and staff at risk. The college is not yet prepared for an influx of visitors, as it is still focused on managing the pandemic for our own community. There are other safer ways to learn about a college’s climate.
Following the pandemic, it is even more important to consider how an administration navigated such volatile times. Learning how a college led and supported its community members can prepare prospective students for how they should expect to be led. Choosing a college is complicated as is, but providing students with transparency can help them make decisions about which college is best for them.