How Your Values (Should) Influence Your College Choice

“When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.” – Roy E. Disney

Note: This is one part of the comprehensive True North program offered by My College Life Coach.  A podcast episode on this topic can be found here.

One of the key beliefs that informs our approach to career development and college selection is that the answers are usually found within the individual; put another way, if you want to know how to get the best performance out of your car, read the manual.  

The first component of a person’s identity is their values, the principles they wish to operate in and build their life upon or the characteristics they want to have in themselves and those around them.  Most people likely recognize the importance of knowing their values and could list a number of things or people that they value, but could they quickly recite the five values that serve as the hallmarks of their life?

Further, when it comes time to make an important decision – like choosing a college – what are the values that serve as compass points?  Too often it’s the values expressed by parents, faculty, friends, society – anyone but the person who will actually be living the decision.

Why is that?

Because people don’t know their values.  Or they see them as niceties that won’t actually cut it in the “real world.”  However, this is vital if you want to choose the best college and get the most value out of the experience.  Watch how this plays out…

Let’s say that your one of the few who really know what’s important to you: the principles, truths, and values you want to base your life on.  That’s a feather in your cap.  But here’s a question you may not know the answer to: Does the college you’re applying to operate on the same set of values?  What about your future classmates?

At first blush this seems like pretty weighty criteria for choosing a school, especially if you’re just figuring out how to get out of high school, but I’m assuming that you’re looking for an amazing college experience.  One that will equip and empower you to more fully live out your sense of purpose or calling. If those things are important to you, then you need to realize the power of living and studying in an environment for four years and its impact on who you will become as a result.  

Do you remember when you were a kid and your mom told you not to hangout with a certain friend because she was concerned he might be a bad influence?  (Hopefully you weren’t that friend!)  Whether or not you agreed with her then, you know she was right: who you hang out with will affect you.  Likewise, your classmates and faculty will quickly rise to the top of people you’re around most throughout the next four years.  Stay tuned to the fact that these people will, whether in a positive or a negative way, rub off on you, and nowhere is that more important than in your values.

If you’re hesitant to believe me on this, let’s make it a positive instead: you know that if you hang out with five people who eat healthily and exercise, you’re more likely to begin doing the same types of things.  So why not apply to colleges and pursue majors that attract other people who are positive, productive, and of sound character?  Take the time to identify the values that are the greatest importance to you and then study potential colleges, activities, and even geographic locations to find like mindedness.  You may end up passing on an opportunity to attend an “elite” school, but you will save yourself the stress of on campus with people who don’t care about the same things that you do.

Even better, you will ready yourself for professors, classmates, and friends to appear with opportunities that suit your values and the life you want to create.

Most importantly, you will maintain integrity in your life, all of the pieces operating in harmony.

If you want to take the first step to finding the perfect college for you, check out the Values Identifier below!  When you finish, I’d love to hear your top 5 values!  If you have questions or need some help with the college search process, you’re welcome to email me

Do you know what's important to you... and why that matters when you choose a college?


The Values Identifier can help you make a great decision about college by personalizing the process to your unique preferences. Get it today and get one step closer to a college that is perfect for you!

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