Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Dig deep while choosing college

April 23, 2014|By Joe Puglia

I’m obnoxious. I’m the guy who sits in the front of the room and asks a million questions, particularly when there’s five minutes remaining in a class that ends at 10 p.m.

I learned in Sister Audrey’s philosophy class the following: “The root of knowledge is derived from an inquisitive mind and if you don’t ask you don’t learn.” Sister Audrey used the Socratic method of teaching. She gave questions, not answers. Then she gave more questions. In her class, I felt like a dog chasing its tail.

Education often manifests years after the fact. Thus I credit Sister Audrey, the guru of the University of Dayton, as foundational to my philosophy that learning is a lifelong endeavor.


Many parents of high school sophomores and juniors are beginning the frantic search for the perfect university for their child. After 38 years of helping students matriculate to college, I’m quite persnickety relative to the questions I ask admissions people in college information sessions. I credit that to Sister Audrey.

A few weeks ago, April Kamar and I took five high school girls — Katerina, Eleni, Cassey, Sabine and Simone — on a college road trip. We should’ve had a movie crew follow us; it would’ve have been a great spoof on “Saturday Night Live.” I gained 10 pounds.

We visited California Poly San Luis Obispo, Santa Clara University, St. Mary’s College, and University of California, Berkeley.

I couldn’t help being me and regardless of the fact I was embarrassing five teenage girls, my insufferable questioning provided a thorough analysis of each school. My intent in this write is not to provide a breakdown of my scrutiny, but I can give you what I believe is a benchmark of what to look for in the university search. However, it’s only the tip of the iceberg.

Where do I begin? I think of the advice the cat gave Alice, the little girl from Wonderland. Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop.

The best rule of thumb as you begin your search is understanding that finding the right college is just as, if not more, important than finding the best college. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

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