College decisions should incorporate a good deal of investigative effort. Since there’s a lot of information to sort through, it’s difficult to distill useful and accurate content from plain opinion. For example, you might want to know how to choose a major or find the best college fit. At Empowerly, our students use a detailed approach that leads to an informed decision. And an informed decision is going to be your best college decision, in the end.
First things first: possibly the most important piece is research. Research isn’t just about finding facts but uncovering academic motivation and how colleges will enhance it. Our framework helps students understand how each year of undergrad will contribute towards their goals.
Research on Your Personal Goals
Students typically have two main routes in mind after their undergraduate years: additional schooling or specific career paths. To maximize intellectual preparation and chances during these respective application processes, students should engage in academic research or develop personal projects. Like in undergraduate admissions, high school students need to explain their interest in a field and relate past life moments and accomplishments to support their story.
Nothing proves interest in the field more than demonstrated growth over time. Because of this, college decisions are likely based on a combination of academic interest, university resources, and student life. Compared to high school academic interest likely changed and became more refined- something that’s proven through major selection, student club participation, research assistantships, personal projects, original research, etc.
Take Time in Proving Interest
Regardless of the decision between starting a career afterwards or continuing onto graduate schooling after undergrad, students should leave with tangible milestones as part of their intellectual development. College decisions are the first step followed by transition to the workplace or academia which begins with another application process that asks the same set of general questions: 1.Why do you care about this field? 2.What experiences or achievements prepare you for this environment? 3.What kind of contributions should we expect?
Research on Crafting a Narrative
If students can point to 2-3 actions that illustrate commitment and passion they will have a strong story. For example, someone interested in working for a robotics technology firm or a robotics program should have at least a few answers to that major question.
Examples to craft a narrative
- I got my start with programming LEGO robots. Lights-out was especially exciting- I could see my creation move across my room with it’s glow-in-the-dark paint. Years later I applied these skills to my very first aerial drone project. It would fly from house to house recording backyard activities. I never missed a neighborhood barbecue or a chance to swim in my neighbor’s pool.
- Halfway through college I organized robot battle between two miniature transformers (just like the movie). It started as a hobby from the skills gained in courses from the Artificial Intelligence lab on campus and grew during my internship at a robotics company. None of this would have been possible without the help of my advisor, a professor with expertise in robot development. My college decision paved the way.
- I’ve studied computer vision extensively and relied heavily on this knowledge to complete the robotics project that served as my senior thesis. I’d like to expand on the human-computer interaction aspects of your program. Specifically, I’d like to help computers distinguish moving vehicles from stationary objects and people. This is a priority for autonomous cars.
If you have the time to fully flesh out each of these questions and answer them fully, you’re ahead of the game. This will put you in a more informed place to understand what your best college decision will be, in the end. Remember, the best college decision is the one that will help you follow your dreams!
If you need more guidance as you balance your options, reach out to the community at Empowerly. We’ve been there; and our experts know how to help.