Students look for more than big name colleges

By Nicole Osuch
March 22, 2007

Emily Buerger

Finding a place to call home and get a degree for four years is one of the biggest decisions one has to make in life. For Katherine Brachelli that decision was three years ago as she sat before three college acceptance letters. Two letters came from two very well-known schools that most high-school students only dream of attending, Syracuse University and Villanova University. A third acceptance letter was from Cabrini College, a small private Catholic college tucked back in the woods in Radnor, Pa.

Brachelli ranked in the top 10 percent of her high school graduating class and graduated in the National Honors Society. She had a strong G.P.A. to accompany the AP and honors classes that she took.

Every year high school seniors shift into panic mode as they are confronted with applying to colleges and then waiting by the mailbox for their ticket out of their hometown to a college where they will engage their minds and enjoy themselves for the next four years.

In the 2007 edition of The Princeton Review’s, “Best 261 Colleges” both Villanova University and Syracuse University made the rankings. On the other hand Cabrini College did not. According to The Princeton Review there are more than 4,000 colleges and trade schools out there. This could explain why students often look for big-name schools, ones that stand out in the bunch.

According to The Princeton Review, “larger schools are usually the ones that get all the press and hype with their largely funded sports programs and research hospitals.” Brachelli learned of Cabrini College while talking to a SAT prep tutor about a major in English and communication.

Like most students Brachelli felt pressure from friends to attend a big-name school rather than one that fit her academic, social and career goals. After pondering her decision and weighing the pros and cons of each school Brachelli decided that Cabrini College was the perfect fit for her.

“Syracuse University and Villanova University were all so much of the same. There was no one way to distinguish between them. At Cabrini College I felt at home and comfortable. I could imagine myself on the campus. I liked the interaction here between the professors and students. I don’t think you get that at other schools,” Brachelli said.

She was also drawn to Cabrini College based on the fact that she could get a strong background in both English and communication at the same time. She thought it would give her a competitive edge when the time came for her to enter the job market.

“I’m a competitive person and that is what originally drew me to Syracuse University and Villanova University. I even considered applying to Columbia University but when I came here I loved the relaxed atmosphere,” Brachelli said.

Cabrini College may not be a big-name school but like smaller less well-known schools it does bring a lot to the table. Saleem Brown, an admissions counselor at Cabrini College said, “A smaller school does have its benefits, for one, the classroom size. I think students would rather be in a class size between 25-30 than 100 -300. Second, the professors at Cabrini College pretty much know your name you’re not just an I.D. number.”

Growing up in a large Italian Roman-Catholic family Brachelli felt a sense of familiarality with the school’s values it was based around. “I like the fact that Cabrini College implements community service into the curriculum,” she said.

At the end of the day, Cabrini College might not have been the “best” or “highest-ranked” in terms of being well-known on Brachelli’s list but it certainly was the best fit for her. “I never thought I would choose such a small school. Not too many people know Cabrini College’s name but you come out of here with such an extensive background and portfolio,” Brachelli said.

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Nicole Osuch

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