The Endcap Game

Unlike many women, I don’t cook for my family or do our grocery shopping.  (Stick with me for a minute, very useful college planning advice is coming.)  One of the many reasons for this is that I behave like a moth in a grocery store, drawn to the flame of the shiny endcap.  For many years I didn’t know the word for what an endcap represents, which according to Merriam-Webster is “a display of products placed at the end of an aisle in a store”.  What that definition doesn’t tell you is that those displays are designed and placed in an extremely strategic manner to entice customers to purchase the products placed there.  Stores often showcase new products or products with seasonal appeal on endcaps.

Endcaps are my nemesis.  I blame it on my Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) but I simply can’t escape their pull when I’m in a store.  So what happens?  Instead of arriving home with shopping bags full of items that logically combine to make balanced meals, I’ll have something like the following: (this is pretty close to what I brought home one day in December – I haven’t done much grocery shopping since)

Now my husband is an excellent chef, but even he is a bit limited with the above list, particularly as one of those items is poisonous and another is not designed for consumption unless you are looking to be on that TLC show “My Strange Addiction“.

Here’s the thing – too many people suffer from my endcap distraction when selecting a college.  I typically know that I’m speaking to a fellow sufferer when someone asks what I do and I explain about independent college counseling and how I assist high school students and their families with college search, application and admission.  The response from those with an endcap issue will be something like a blank look and then, “I guess you help them find more money, right?  Because there’s College X (big state school in the state where we’re speaking) or College Y (mid-sized private school in the state where we’re speaking) or there’s always College Z (small school or community college in the state where we’re speaking) so they have plenty of schools to choose from.”

Should anyone be selecting a college based on what’s located geographically nearest to them?  I would argue that unless there are other excellent reasons for selecting that school, (i.e. they have a program that really interests you, you can get free tuition because a parent works there, etc.) the choice to attend an institution of higher learning based solely on geography is as poorly  considered as my choice of mistletoe and lint traps for dinner.

So don’t fall for the lure of the endcap.  Make a shopping list of schools, visit them, ask good questions, learn what’s out there.  You don’t know what you don’t know.  The most amazing school with an incredible program and interesting students and helpful professors is often not located in your backyard.  Ping me and let me help you find some of these places.  I promise to look beyond the endcaps and help you to do so too.