As you Organize Your College Data, you must consider your Data Mining Resources. An invaluable resource is current and former College Students. Ask anyone you meet where they went to College and why they chose that College. Then ask them about their experience at that College.
I think it’s obvious why you talk to current and former College students about their College choice and experience. You can read about a College on-line or in books, you can visit a College, but you will definitely learn new things about a college if you talk to someone who attends/attended that College. By discussing a College on a personal level, it helps you visualize yourself at that College and realize what is important to you. Knowledge is power, and is most effective when it comes from various sources (see Word of Mouth).
These discussions will help you make a more informed decision on your College choice. BONUS: that person might be able to connect you with someone who can help you more. Here are some sample questions you might ask a current or former student of a College you are interested in attending. They are pretty basic, you should customize them to your needs:
1. Why did you pick that College?
2. What did you study?
3. Did you attend Graduate School?
4. What are you doing now?
5. How would you describe the typical student?
6. Did you like the social life?
7. Did you spend much time off campus? Doing what?
8. Do many students go home on the weekends?
9. Did you have any internships?
10. Did you study abroad?
11. What do you regret not doing while you were there?
12. Do you have a relationship now with any of your former professors?
13. Do you have a relationship now with any of your former classmates?
14. What don’t you like about that College?
15. What other schools did you think about attending?
16. How did the difference in student’s socio-economic status impact socializing? Do jocks hang out with the nerds? Do the financial aid kids snub the wealthy legacies?
You get the idea. Most people like to talk about themselves, and your interest reflects your respect. You are building a relationship with that former (or current) student, and you never know where it may take you. Also keep in mind that if you are talking to someone who attended the college 20 years ago, a lot of things may have changed. But if during that conversation, someone tells you that 20 years ago, athletes were housed separately from the rest of the students and tended not to socialize with non-athletes, you will have a great specific question to ask a student when you go tour that college. You may find out that the college decided that wasn’t a good policy, and changed housing so that athletes are mixed in among non-athletes.
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