How to Reflect on What Matters to You as You Begin the College Search

By Eileen Cunningham-Fiekes.

The discovery phase of college planning is all about researching, exploring and even visiting to discover which colleges fit best with your personal wants and needs. Eileen Cunningham Feikens, director of college counseling at the Dwight-Englewood School in New Jersey, urges high school students to be savvy consumers. “The one area that you have 100% control over in this entire process is the formation of your college list,” said Feikens. “No college can make you apply to them. In order to make sure that list really matches what you want, you have to figure out what you want first. You’re No. 1, and those colleges have to fit your needs.”

Eric Furda, dean of admissions at the University of Pennsylvania, often writes in his Page 217 blog and on his Twitter feed @DeanFurda that the time of college discovery needs to be a mindful process where students aren’t just thinking about getting in, but thinking deeply about what is important to them. It is a time to reflect.

Furda has devised a simple self-assessment method to help you identify your values, interests and dreams. “I call these the Five I’s: Identity, Intellect, Ideas, Interests, and Inspiration,” said Furda. “How will they combine to think about the type of college environment that would be good for [you] as a student?” Here are some more details:

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Be sure to listen to the podcast at the top of the page (which originally aired on Sirius XM Channel 111, Business Radio Powered by The Wharton School) for lots more great advice and insight from Dean Furda and his guests. We will be posting more segments of The Process soon, so stay tuned.