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By Theresa V. Brokowski

Selecting a college is one of the most critical and crucial decisions facing the college-bound student today. A wise appropriate choice is the result of in-depth research, which involves serious introspection, much reading and asking many questions. Finding solid satisfying answers demands much time, great thoroughness and hard work.

Before information gathering begins, it is necessary to examine oneself as a person, to assess academic and personal strengths and achievements, to consider one's special talents, interests and possible career goals. Armed with this assessment, the process of researching, identifying and selecting a college whose programs, policies and spirit coincide with one's needs, hopes and goals is ready to begin.

In its early stages, the college exploration looks at college location, majors, costs, activities and student life. Guidebooks, viewbooks, catalogues, videos and information on the Internet, often through the World Wide Web, are sources of valuable data. Talking to a high-school guidance counselor, whose experience with the college scene, coupled with a personal knowledge of the student are rich resources of information and priorities in the college search. Visits to a college, which include group information sessions and sometimes a personal interview with college-admissions personnel provide current information and the opportunity to ask questions.

For many students, it is a must to go beyond general information! If gifted, answers should be sought on honors programs offered, joint degree programs, opportunities offered to accelerate and to combine majors/programs and the types of scholarships and grants available.

For example, at the University at Albany (a SUNY University), exceptional students with a high-school average of at least 91 and an outstanding record on standardized tests may be invited to become Presidential Scholars. Scholars are eligible for: General Education tutorials; a guaranteed place in the university seminars for freshmen; specially designed, one-on-one readings with a faculty member; priority registration status; the chance to live in Honors House with other scholars; and the same library borrowing privileges as faculty members.

Students admitted to the Presidential Scholars Program may be eligible for a University Honors Scholarship. These renewable scholarships, with a value of $4,000 for resident students and $5,000 for nonresident students, will be awarded to a selected group of Presidential Scholars.

The young man or woman interested in pre-professional programs needs to know specific entrance criteria, possibilities afforded to do research and the availability of specialized internships.

The size of the student body can sometimes be an intimidating factor for an incoming freshman. Some collegiate institutions have initiated unique programs that combine the advantages of a small college with the opportunities of a large university. An example of this is Project Renaissance, offered at The University at Albany, which is a truly distinctive academic experience for students who want to make the most of their first year in college. Intellectually challenging, socially and personally rewarding, Project Renaissance brings together groups of 100 students with a team of faculty members, librarians, computer specialists and student assistants in a shared academic and living community. Project Renaissance offers the advantages of a close-knit small college environment: a shared course, the same residence hall and special activities.

To find the ideal school, with the appropriate level of academic challenge and comparable academic excellence, it is vital to identify programs that offer opportunities and features which meet a student's needs and dreams. Collegiate choices do exist and personal preferences can become satisfying academic realities, if ... one goes deeper, takes time to research, probe, visit and ask questions in order to unveil a wealth of information that should not be missed. The effort and the time put into the college search will reap benefits that will affect a lifetime.

Theresa V. Brokowski is the Regional Representative for The University at Albany.

Search for Colleges and Universities



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Known for its exceptional academic experience and preparing students for careers, 1,200 students yearly participate in the University internship program, the largest in the NY metro area.

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Our liberal arts core curriculum provides the necessary basis for leadership and the knowledge and skills for success in a wide range of professions.

Roger Williams University
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Polytechnic Institute of NYU is New York metropolitan's major educational resource in science and technology education and research.

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