Mr. Szarek?  Yes, Justin.

Is CCR University ranked?  Ranked?

Ranked.  By whom?

Anybody.  I’m sure it is.

By whom?  I don’t know.

You don’t know?  I don’t care.

You don’t care?  No, I honestly don’t.

Why? 

There are 4000 colleges out there, Justin – give or take a few.  The vast majority – by my guess – 3971 – have qualified faculty and facilities.

But some have ‘more’ qualified faculty…

Who often don’t teach undergrads or are teaching larger classes and have less chance to interact individually.

And some have awesome football programs.

That you won’t be able to play for or will end playing for during that period of time they lost bowl eligibility.  Justin, you don’t rank things that are important.  And you especially don’t make a decision based on that ranking.

I don’t understand, Mr. Szarek.  Everything gets ranked.  Yelp, Google, and so.  We.  Rank.  Everything.

We don’t rank things that we truly value.  Mrs. Jones is the #4 Liberal Arts wife in Wisconsin this year.  Mr. Jones is the #7 Tier Two Husband in Ohio.  We don’t rank religions.  We don’t rank the things we truly value.

We shouldn’t rank colleges.

But how do I know whether CCR U., or any other school, is right for me?

Research.  Data.  Real, tangible information.  Do they have my major?  What type of facilities are offered in that major? How popular is that major at that school?  Do they meet my other criteria – such as distance from home, campus size, campus setting, religious affiliation, athletic programs, reasonable chance of accepting me?

And then – VISIT.  Online AND in person.  Check it out.  Use your own eyes and ears.  Process the information with your mind and your heart.  Can I live here, work here, study here, succeed here for the next four years?  Is this a place where I can thrive, grow, mature, build upon my dreams?  Do you think, Justin, that a ranking can tell you that?

Mr. Szarek, you’re getting a little loud…

Oh, sorry, about that, Justin.  Do you think your Mom picked your Dad from a magazine ranking?

Uh, I really doubt it.  I think it involved a mixer at a place called the Dublin Pub.

Justin, I just wanted to emphasize that rankings are not the end-all and be-all in choosing a college.  They exist, they will exist for a long time to come.  They may help you see possible options.  But – if you look at them at all – they should be pushed aside fairly early on in your college search.  You’ve got better tools available to you – your eyes, your ears, your own mind, and your own instinct.  Trust those.  I’m sure glad Mrs. Szarek did.

As always, I welcome your comments and questions.  Please feel free to email me at info@cc4therestofus.com, call or text me at 908-403-3819, join me on Facebook on “College Counseling for the Rest of Usand join me on Twitter at @MichaelCCR.   And now on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/user/CCRMichael?feature=mhee.

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