“Getting in” to college

In between visiting high schools in MA early last week, I found myself browsing the magazine rack at Barnes & Nobles.  In the “Current Events” section, I found a publication which advertised in bold letters on the cover:


I couldn’t help but pick up the magazine and look for the answer.  Alas, it was all a ploy — they never did answer that question.

The title, though, got me to thinking – what’s the point, anyway?   

In this college search process, there is so much focus on “getting in” that very often students and parents lose sight of the point of the college search process.  But what is the point? 

What are students really after? 

I was determined to find out.  At evening receptions in Hartford and Manchester, NH over the last 10 days, I asked the students and parents just that – if you had just one wish in the college search process, what would it be?  I asked them to write their wish down on a piece of paper and submit it anonymously (see picture for a small sampling).   


The results would certainly surprise the publishers of the aforementioned magazine.

Most of the answers had nothing to do with actually “getting in”; the students were much more reflective and their answers were much more personal – finding the right fit, finding happiness and personal discovery.

All of these “wishes” led me to the conclusion that while the media might be obsessed with “getting in”, deep down inside, students still recognize that this process is one enables, nay demands, reflection and personal growth and that is perhaps the most valuable part of the college search process. 

So high school seniors, as application deadlines loom on the near horizon, take a moment between now and then to reflect on it all and answer that question for yourself – what am I really after?

Andrew N Carter
Associate Director of Admissions

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