Picking a college by its flavor

Picking your college flavor, Photo by Prayitno/ more than 1.25...

Picking your college flavor, Photo by Prayitno/ more than 1.25…

Do you like ice cream? If you are nodding yes as your mouth waters, then you are ready to help your teens form a great college list.

Colleges, like ice cream, come in many flavors. Fortunately for parent and student ice cream lovers, there usually are one or more favorite parlors on and near campus. Each place has a list of tasty offerings ready for those touring colleges to sample.


I am an avid fan of all frozen treats. Ice cream (soft serve or hard out of a container), gelato, ice milk, frozen yogurt, sorbet, sherbet, or Italian ice, I take my time to choose my dessert wisely. If there are several flavors to my liking, I take even longer to decide.

Picking a college is also about taking the time to make a smart choice. Ice cream can help the college-bound find their college flavor.

Safe, Target, Reach

Traditionally, there are three categories of schools:

  • Safety schools: Students exceed admission requirements and are most likely to be offered admission.
  • Target or match schools: Students meet all admission criteria.
  • Reach schools:  Students do not fulfill all requirements as compared to other applicants but they really want to attend.

However, colleges like ice cream, come in more than three flavors. Within each category, sort them further according to their college flavor.


It is up to students to find the college flavors that best suit their taste. Parents can help their student research schools and melt the list down to 6-8 favorites.

Here are some college flavors to choose from:

Vanilla The most popular flavor hands down is vanilla. Compare college lists at any high school and chances are the lists will be similar. The problem is the more students from one area applying to the same schools decrease the chances for all to be admitted. There are many variations of this comfort flavor such as vanilla bean and French vanilla. Vanilla loving college-bound can improve their odds by expanding their list with great schools not usually found on their peers’ lists.

Chunky Whatever the flavor, ice cream is mixable. It blends well with fruit, nuts, chocolate and a host of other goodies. Students can research schools that offer a combined degree program so they can earn two diplomas: two bachelor’s or a bachelor’s plus a master’s or other advanced degree. This will save time and money for students sure of their career goal.

Garlic Or lox, cereal, spaghetti and cheese are exotic flavors for those seeking new tasty experiences. For students it means looking beyond college stats and focusing on schools that deliver an educational adventure. What makes the college unique? Check for special courses, majors and programs and the ease of attending them once admitted.

Lite Too much ice cream can break a diet so sometimes switching to a bowl of lite has the flavor without the calories. Financial safety schools are the answer for families craving a college that doesn’t bust the budget. Check for schools with lower total cost of attendance (see POCS COA) and generous schools that dole out large portions of endowed scholarships. Also look for those that offer financial aid to meet close to 100 percent of need. The goal is to reduce belt-tightening now and in the future.

Combo Ever order two flavors instead of one? For those with a desire for higher education but not ready to attend a four-year school, a community college can be the answer. Two year schools have lower costs and an introduction to balancing the rigors of higher level academics with new social activities. Do well and transfer to a four year college for the bachelor’s degree. Or apply this strategy by starting at a local (commute instead of residing on campus), less selective (beef up qualifications) or less costly (save money) school.

Go ahead and take a family collegecation by visiting the ones of greatest interest. Sit back and enjoy a cone or dish of your fave flavor at an ice cream parlor at college.