How do you know you’re seeing the “college” and not just the “marketing”? How do you get to the true heart of a college experience?
This week, NPR released new standards for its journalists. For an organization as big and respected as NPR, this is a pretty big deal. It’s like the Seattle Seahawks writing a new playbook, or Daft Punk deciding they’re going to start playing the type of music Nickelback plays. (Scary, right?) In the just-published standards, NPR introduces an entirely new concept: “being fair to the truth.” It definitely has a nice ring to it, and it marks a major departure for journalism in contemporary America. Right now, most news organizations adopt a “balanced reporting norm” approach: both sides get the same amount of air time to create a sense of fairness. Anybody who’s ever been in trouble knows how the balanced approach works in real life: you get called into the principal’s office and tell your side of the story, the other guy gets called into the principal’s office and tells their side, and in the end the principal decides who’s right. In the news world, the audience is supposed to play the role of the principal. Sometimes called the “he said, she said” approach, this approach forces the reader to figure out what’s actually true and accurate. It works great in theory … except there’s always “spin” on the story. If you’ve followed politics at all this election year, you know that someone is always trying to “spin” the story … and sometimes the facts, too. That makes it much, much harder to decide what’s actually true. Something similar happens with colleges. You can read their viewbooks, go online to their websites and open all their emails, but you might never get to heart of the matter. So what can you do?
- Turn to students already on campus. If you know somebody at Eastern, you should reach out and see what they say.
- Read the common data set. This is a loooooooooooong list of numbers and checkboxes, but nearly every school has one.. That makes it easy for you to compare schools on things such as cost, average debt load, and financial aid packages. Fair warning, though: some schools don’t give you all the information. You can find Eastern’s common data sets via this page.
- Visit campus. While many visit activities are planned, you get a chance to see the university without editing, photoshopping or someone’s “spin.” Students are doing what students do on campus. You get to try the food. You can explore the neighborhood or nearby city.A full 71 percent of students say that a visit to campus is the absolute best way to get a feel for the college without the “spin.”
We agree, which is why a college visit, either as part of a tour or as part of an event like goEastern, is such an important part of finding the college that’s the right fit for you. We know that Eastern is the state’s best value and a phenomenal school … but we want you to discover it for yourself without the spin.