Over the last couple of weeks colleges and boarding schools have been descending on Beijing, Shanghai, and other parts of China. It is always interesting to see the wide diversity of schools coming but also the intensity with which students and their families take advantage of these opportunities.
Families have so much choice with leaves me with this musing about a university fair at Harrow last night. There were over 100 universities from the likes of the US, UK, Canada, Hong Kong, Korea, the Netherlands, and France. Such a wide range of opportunities! There were great workshops on “What is Liberal Arts”, “Studying in the Netherlands”, “Why Business School in Europe”, and several others; All to whet the perspective appetites of attendees. Several things were noticeable –
- Despite the current issues between China and the US there seems to be no waning of the interest in attending schools in the US. Their tables were packed. The UK was also a significant draw as well especially given the caliber of schools attending – several Russell Group Schools. All suggesting that these two countries are still very much on families’ minds as they look to their future educational paths.
- Other regions still had a draw, but certainly not like the US and the UK. Which is interesting given the prestige of some of the schools attending many of which are in the top 100 or so of World Ranking.
For students who are thinking a year or two ahead of the admission process, it is curious that students are not taking advantage of considering a wide range of options. In one conversation the topic was the narrow focus of where people consider being “good” schools. And the range seems to get narrower and narrower as admission rates to those schools gets lower and lower. One would think that at this time in a student’s investigation process they would think out side the norm and learn what is available.
Having said that, there remains the whole hole of rankings. Just the other day Inside Higher Ed released an article focusing on a study by Stanford Graduate School of Education titled “To Find the Best Fit, Ignore the Rankings.” The first remarkable thing is that this is from Stanford. It is so refreshing that an educational leader is taking this stance and the hope would be that people take notice. A key part of the article is that based on the extensive analysis of their research the many factors students and families consider when looking at college – student learning, job satisfaction, well-being, and future income, these factors are not considered or used in developing rank. Further, “Research tells us that the most successful students, both in college and beyond, are the ones who engage in the undergraduate experience regardless of how selective a school may be. This is almost always the case whether a student attends the top-ranked or 200th-ranked college” Denise Pope, Senior Lecturer.
So we come back to the premise – do research, visit schools, weigh options that will engage you and where you will be happy. This applies to boarding schools or any school for that matter. But, in being able to see what is available, one must step beyond what one “knows’ or thinks they know. We attend classes because we want to learn, but strangely in thinking about school operationally people have a hard time being open minded to the enormously wide range of opportunities the world has to offer.
Some other minor musings, not really related to this topic but two weeks ago at the National Association of College Admission Counselors Conference in Salt Lake. The big topic of conversation in some sessions and a national committee I sit on was around testing. Colleges and universities are beginning to relook at the importance and value of testing in the admission process. The University of California, one of the main users of SAT will convene a committee to look at testing as related to admissions at the Provost level (Provosts are top dogs in a university). So this along with more schools going Test Optional or dropping the Writing Section is bringing to the front the concerns of many in the field. The International Initiatives Committee on which I sit gave NACAC the go ahead to open an investigation into the cost international students bear in testing, the costs which are much higher than domestic students.
The world is changing, how will you take advantage of the coming changes and be prepared for that future!