As I speak with groups about the college admissions process, I often ask: “How many of you have heard of Villanova University?” Typically, 29 out of 30 hands are extended. I follow up with: “How many have heard of Ursinus College?” Usually, 14 of 30 hands go up. The difference is astounding, considering the fact that both schools are less than a 5 hour drive from the Capital Region of New York – and within about 20 miles of each other! When I ask why so many know Villanova and not Ursinus, most everyone says because of basketball, as in NCAA March Madness.
It’s fascinating to me how an institution’s brand often determines how many students apply every year, as well as its selectivity. Villanova admits about 44% of its applicants. Ursinus admits 70%. I call Villanova a “name brand” school, which often has little to do with the quality of education at a particular college. In fact, Villanova is an excellent university for the right student, but then again, so is Ursinus. Ursinus is one of the “Colleges That Change Lives – www.ctcl.org. Check it out. It’s an excellent fit for many students, but it doesn’t have the brand name cache of Villanova in the eyes of the public.
Ursinus is one of dozens, if not hundreds of hidden gems across the country that many students and parents should consider, but they don’t simply because they don’t know about it. The goal of the college admissions process is to find best fit colleges socially, academically, and financially. Looking past the brand name, goes a long way in the college search. It could be a much less expensive option, and it could, literally, change someone’s life.