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Juniors: Consider the Edelweiss Factor in Building a College List

When the parents of today's college-bound kids were applying to schools, they looked for the proverbial "good school." Usually that meant a highly ranked school with national name recognition.Many parents and their children make the mistake of falling back on that time worn description of the "good school" when making choices both in applying to universities and selecting which ones to attend.We are here to tell you that there is another, far more effective way to make these choices. And we’re giving it a new name: The Edelweiss Factor. If you’ve seen The Sound of Music then you probably remember Captain Von Trapp singing about Austria’s national flower – the edelweiss. These lyrics … “blossom of snow may you bloom and grow…” represent a hope for an environment where continued development and growth can be sustained.

These are the words to live by when helping your child find a good fit college, a place where they can bloom and grow – academically, socially and emotionally. For a handful of kids, the most competitive and well-known schools could be the right ones. But for most, something that meets their own, specific needs will lead to a far better outcome.

Keep in mind that getting into college is only part of the goal during the application process. The far greater goal should be “getting out.” Many kids spend four years of high school twisting themselves into the ideal applicant for the so-called “best” schools. And a lot of them manage the amazing feat of getting in. Then they arrive on campus. Their hard work, high class rank, valedictorian honor, and strong showings in sports, music, and drama are not unique. They are par for the course. The realization that they are not as special as the world told them they were can have a negative effect. Many kids find themselves wanting to leave. Others simply begin carving out a path of least resistance. They find ways to pass courses rather than to try and learn new things they once only dreamed of. Avoiding failure is not a great way to prepare for the real world of work and personal life that lies ahead.

We suggest that students apply to schools for which they are a solid academic fit. They should pay attention to class sizes, ability to get to know professors, social vibe, appropriate location, and any other factors that will help them “bloom and grow.”

Yes, but, what about the fact that employers are impressed by the “name” schools. Maybe. But it will become evident very quickly if a worker only went to the school, but failed to achieve there. A person with a zest for knowledge, who’s willing to take risks and try new things, and who’s had experience leading others is far more likely to succeed in the workplace. The “name” effect fades fairly quickly. Take a look at who’s leading America’s top companies and you’ll see that where they went to college did not put them where they are today. To milk this metaphor for as much as it’s worth, we want to plant the seeds of the Edelweiss Factor in your minds now, so that when constructing the ultimate college list, it is filled with places where your kid can thrive.

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