Don’t make this college selection mistake

mistakes“Trevor didn’t like that college.”

So said Doug’s mom, a senior, many years ago, at Old Saybrook High School, as she dismissed a college from consideration despite the fact that it hit all of Doug’s main college search criteria.

“Who is Trevor?” I asked.

“Trevor is my friend’s son. He toured a bunch of schools last year and didn’t like [college that shall be remain nameless].”

I couldn’t help myself and reverted back to the prosecutor I once was:

“Are Trevor and Doug similar?”

“Not really”

“Did Trevor wind up attending a college that Doug would want to attend?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Do you have a high regard for Trevor’s judgment?”

“I never really thought about it but I’m good friends with his mom.”

The silliness by which we make major decisions never ceases to amaze me. The decision making process followed by Doug’s mom is not out of the ordinary. Many of us tend to make decisions by faulty inductive reasoning.

Or more plainly put, we draw general conclusions from singular examples, some of which are not well-considered examples. Proper inductive reasoning would involve drawing a general conclusion based on many, more properly considered, examples.

In the college counseling context, if Trevor and five other people who are reasonably similar to Doug did not like a particular college, then that would be proper inductive reasoning.

Doug wound up attending and loving the college that I suggested at the start of the meeting.