Finding the value in anything can be difficult. As quantitative people, engineers, scientists, and mathematicians most commonly turn toward the single most indisputable method for establishing and ranking anything in the world: quantitative assessments, or metrics. Metrics are great for analyzing large amounts of data, for predicting consumer choices, or for improving day to day life processes by making a few changes. But, metrics aren’t always the answer. For instance, metrics induce the accurate target mentality; employees, or anyone given a task to achieve, will attempt to achieve the defined goal to a T. While achieving goals is paramount to success itself, arguably, oftentimes the reason that these metrics are even created in the first place is for an even greater purpose. Check out the Motivation column for more.
Motivation is present in any decision; rational or irrational, conscious or subconscious. Sometimes the most important motivation is an embedded concern or desire, one that is masked by other questions, actions, or external influences. In order to find the true value in attaining a goal, or even approaching valuation with objectivity, the motivation for analyzing such arbitrary human-defined parameters must also be defined. Without a proper definition of one’s own standards that may be referenced when the comparison between value+1 and value+2 arises, an objective comparison may not be made. In some cases, motivation A will hint that value+2 is the right choice, while motivation B will encourage the selection of value+1. Why? Motivation changes by situation, and so does inherent value.
Choosing the university that you will attend is subject to the exact same rhetoric outlined in the Metrics vs. Motivation. Think about your real motivation for attending a school. Do you want a big school? A small school? A place with research, with nightlife, with a beach, mountains, lakes, a urban oasis? What kind of people do you want to be around, and what kind of experiences do you want to have every day? While there are a lot of questions to ask, start with the things that you know you already like. Build from there, and create your ideal school. Then, realize that your motivation in attending a school is largely held in the idea of attending a school similar to the things you like. This is your motivation, the underlying basis for all of the metrics (the average ACT’s, SAT’s, “correct” essay responses, and the “right interview skills) that many chase so quickly in search of the formula for the perfect school. There is no perfect school, only the best school for you.
I went through the same process when choosing a school and fortunately I ended up at the best school for me. USC.