When Facts Become The Enemy

The human brain is incredibly complex, smart and wonderful. But if that is true, why do we still make such dumb decisions?

Even though your brain is smart, sometimes it is your own worst enemy. College is a complex decision. With so many factors to consider, it is no wonder it is such an overwhelming task for many families.

The Brain's Natural Reaction

When the frontal lobe of the brain is overwhelmed by complex data it can't make sense of its natural reaction is to rely on the more primitive parts of the brain (a.k.a. the reptile brain). This results in decisions made on pure emotion or gut instinct rather than a logical outcome of the facts.

The outcome of the brains natural reaction as regards education decisions is a student who chooses their school because they thought the campus was pretty or they liked the tour guide. They have failed to incorporate the vast majority of factors that actually have an impact on whether or not they will be successful at this school.

Using Facts to Justify Decisions Rather Than to Make Them

The "feeling" a student gets during the one day they visit a campus is not completely irrelevant.  However, it should be one factor among many others that go into making a decision. But this is rarely the case. What happens instead is that a student makes up their mind based on their emotions, and then selectively finds whatever facts they can to "prove" their point, ignoring all those that disprove it.  

Possibly one of the most abused facts are rankings. With so many out there, it's easy to find one to latch on to in order to "prove" the worthiness of a particular school. Even if rankings are based on a collection of relevant facts, they are too simplistic to be used to determine college fit.

The focus on a limited set of numbers cherry picked from the broader scope of metrics that define reality leads to many a bad decision. When this happens, facts may be doing more harm than good. We need to tip the scales back in the favor of of objective facts, because emotion has an unfair advantage. 

What's At Stake

College is essentially how our society allocates human capital. Your course of study in college, or whether or not you go to college, has a large impact on what you will then spend the rest of your life doing. I could go on and on about the various ways we are mis-allocating that capital, but suffice it to say that this is one of the more extreme absurdities.

It's incredible that we have evolved as a species as far as we have, and yet still use the pre-historic parts of our brains to organize our society and allocate our most precious resources.

We at College Factual are diligently working to create a better way to make these complex decisions.

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