Scandals have hit several universities this year, with the University of Virginia and Penn State making most of the newspaper headlines.
While scandals are nothing new to the academic world, prospective college students and their parents may wonder how negative news impacts the college application process, or the decision about whether or not to apply to a certain institution.
The answer is, it depends. I don’t dissuade students from applying to certain schools, but students and parents should be aware of any recent headlines – good or bad – that are attached to schools they want to consider.
The scandals at Penn State and UVA can give families a glimpse into an institution’s priorities and overall culture, both of which can impact a student’s experiences. That’s why students should consider administration culture along with other important considerations such as student life, academic majors, location, size, internship programs and other factors that ultimately help you decide your first and second choice schools.
My own personal take is that the Penn State scandal came down to the heinous actions (or inactions) by 4 or 5 individuals. Reprehensible acts, surely. But should an entire university be brought down by the actions of a handful of individuals? I don't feel like I'm in a position to judge. Similarly, I don't know enough of what went on behind the scenes to make a judgment about the contretemps at the University of Virginia.
What kind of administration do you want at your school? Does it matter if a school places priority on athletics or is that a non-issue to you? How do you want the administration to handle hot topic issues? What are the school’s values, and do they match your own? These are the questions worth asking.
Taking the time to find the perfect fit school isn’t easy, but if you invest the time you’ll know you made the right choice, and for the right reasons.