Monday, January 17, 2011

Shopping Around

In my household, I am typically the designated grocery shopper.  I go once a week, and both my wife and I buy whatever remaining items we end up needing in between.  Within about a mile, there are five major supermarkets.  All have their strengths and weaknesses but I know from experience that they don’t have the best goodness of fit with the needs of my family.). So instead of choosing based on convenience, I choose based on the selection and go to another major supermarket that is almost 20 by-car minutes from my home.  The supermarket I go to is the Long Island “branch” of what started as a local Manhattan store.  Before the Long Island branch opened, I did much of my shopping at the Manhattan store, so a 20-minute commute is actually an improvement.  (Under full disclosure, I like Manhattan so these shopping trips did allow the opportunity to do other things as well.) What specifically makes this store, the store of choice for my family?  Simply stated, it is the selection of fruits, vegetables, fish, pasta, cheese, meat, frozen foods, diary, and also the selection of dark chocolate (a key part of our well balanced diet).

I made my choice based on years of experience but there are other ways to make this choice.  Typically once a week, each of these stores publishes a flyer with their specials and these flyers are included with my newspaper delivery.  I really can’t tell the differences in stores by looking at the flyers or at the store websites.  I can’t tell the difference by looking at the store facades.  The names of the stores tell me even less. I can only tell which is the best based on my needs and a careful evaluation over time.

In choosing a college or university, I always emphasize the outstanding education we provide at Hofstra but I also always stress the need for potential students and their families to carefully evaluate all their options and alternatives in order to make the “best fit “ choice for the individual involved (which very likely would be Hofstra).  But you can’t find “best fit” by simply looking at websites or printed materials or guidebooks or even a visit to campus.  You need to take your time, you need to talk with students and faculty, you need to especially follow up with individuals connected to your area of interest, you need to see how advisement works, you need to see the residence halls, the dining facilities, the recreational facilities, you need to immerse yourself and become as educated as possible about an institution before you commit to being educated at an institution.  Some families do this very seriously and do it very well.  Others are much more haphazard.

Higher Education needs  to do a better job in encouraging all potential students and their families to view college as a life altering investment  that needs to be researched very carefully.  Perhaps some students may make a different choice, perhaps we will gain other students that had originally thought about going elsewhere.  But what I am most certain of, is that there is a strong correlation between  the effort that the students and their family makes to find the best fit institution and retention of that student. We are all invested in student success; that success starts with making the best choice.

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