This day and age, some people tend to be very concerned about going to a “well known” college. It’s gotten worse since more people have gotten their hands on U.S. News & World Report and think that a college that is on that list is better than others. At Campus Bound, we focus on the right college for each student, and occasionally we like to suggest schools that we really like but that you might not be too familiar with. And sometimes, it’s the perfect fit, even if it doesn’t have the perfect name.
The concept of a name brand college is actually fairly specific to the east coast of the U.S. Because there are so many options here, people use rankings and familiarity to determine which ones are good or not. It’s not typically like that in other parts of the country, where students tend to go to whichever state school is the best fit for them or closest to home.
Additionally, students and parents should be cautious about holding U.S. News & World Report, or other kinds of rankings, in high regard. If you look closely, the top 10 colleges just basically rotate from year to year. And there are several researchers and experts that have strong points about why these rankings are unreliable (just Google, “Are college rankings reliable”).
In our profession, we see many students apply to schools they may not have heard of before we suggested them. It’s one of my favorite moments, when a student says to me, “I checked out XYZ College because you suggested it, and I love it! It’s a great match for me.” It makes me so happy. We call them hidden gems. These are colleges that may not get the recognition that we feel they deserve. And trust us, there are a lot of these kinds of schools.
An advantage to applying to a school not many people have heard of is that few other students from your high school, or perhaps your geographical area, will be applying there. Sometimes this can help your chances of being admitted. Also, you will get to tell people all about the awesome school you decided to attend, and then guess what? Now they’ve heard of it!