TODAY   |  October 02, 2012

How to find the best college for your kid

Trying to find a college that best suits your child’s specific interests can be overwhelming, but Kat Cohen of IvyWise is here to help, sharing the best schools for outdoor lovers, foodies, and more.

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>> fit, but first this is "today" on nbc.

>>> this morning on "today's classroom," finding a college that suits your kids' specific interests. here with advice is cat cohen, a college counsellor. good to see you.

>> good to see you.

>> got a great list, really varied. how did you pick the colleges on this list.

>> first of all, so many great schools that can fit each of the categories. i chose schools based on diversity, affordability, selectivity and geography.

>> let's get started. first of all, kids who are work-minded. great schools on this list.

>> right.

>> when you say work-minded, what do you mean?

>> schools are great-for-work -- minded kids, for example, northeastern. 90% of those students participate in their co-op program, and what this is when students alternate semester between academic study and full-time employment, so for most kids this is actually a five-year school. by the time they graduate they could have up to 18 months of professional work experience , and three co-op jobs, and in a tough job market , that --

>> that gives you an edge.

>> absolutely.

>> down to florida, university of florida . they have one of the best career resource centers, and they not only help current students but also alumni with the right tools and advice to help them get their dream job .

>> once you've moved on they are still helping you.

>> exactly.

>> helping with everything in terms of mapping out your whole career. helping you choose a major to helping you negotiate a salary.

>> r.i.pi, rensselaer polytech neck.

>> great for engineers, major companies boeing and apple recruit and ranked number 20 in return on investment. some of the graduates have some of the highest entry level salaries at just over $60,000.

>> student who loves the outdoors. got some choices there.

>> absolutely. for example, university of colorado , boulder. if you love skiing and snowboarding, this is the school for you.

>> can you major in that?

>> can't major in it, although they have the largest skiing and snowboarding club in the world, and it's within a two-hour drive of eight amazing ski resorts .

>> another great location, the university of california at santa barbara .

>> yes. ucsb, fabulous for sand and surf. located on 1,055 acres of the california coast, and it's just above the cliffs on black's beach which is known to be one of the most challenging and popular surf spots. plus, it's a great school for students who want to study the outdoors. with the pacific ocean and the school's land and water reserves, they act almost like an outdoor laboratory for students who want to study aquatic biology.

>> that's pretty cool. finally, indiana university in bloomington .

>> for students interested in the outdoors, can actually take skills courses for college credit , so i love this. take wilderness survival or ice climbing for college credit . cuisine up for a bunch of adventure trips, and " sports illustrated " on campus voted bloomington one of the top ten college towns for sports. it's also they have a 2,000-acre campus which is perfect for biking, and they host the little 500 every year, the nation's biggest college bike race .

>> love this next category. schools for students who want to live the good life. i think most parents would say that's -- you're already doing that.

>> exactly.

>> well, gw, george washington university is one of those schools. about 75% of the students live on campus, in the foggy bottom or mt. vernon neighborhoods, and many of the dorms have balconies that show those breathtaking views of the dc skyline and two dorms to highlight here. one for students interested in green living that has motion-centered lighting and toto, low volume toilets, very fancy, and another one is a converted hotel with marble bathrooms, designer kitchens and also an outdoor pool. not too shabby.

>> nice. kansas city university.

>> ksu, 668-acre campus offers many unique amenities, including a golf course . they have beach volleyball courts, a dairy bar, multiple gardens, and there's lots of different ways to live here between residential halls, apartment buildings, townhouses. many of which have billiards rooms and viewing rooms, and also the ras on this campus always get high marks.

>> davidson university , what's the highlight there?

>> moms, listen up. worried about sending kids off to college and wearing the same clothes won't be doing that at davidson. have full-service laundry for free and alterations and dry cleaning for a very minimal charge.

>> so your kids don't know how to do the laundry. come out of college.

>> definitely perks.

>> schools fit for foodies.

>> bowdoin college , a tiny school but always ranks at the top of the college food list. you can enjoy intimate restaurant-style dining, everything from sushi, to mussels, to a salad bar that has fruits and vegetables from their own campus garden.

>> wow.

>> oregon state .

>> oregon state , they listen to their kids there. student wrote a column bemoaning the lack of chicken on campus and the head of dining put buffalo chicken wraps on every single menu.

>> and rounding it out, johnson-and-wales.

>> if you want to study the culinary field.

>> kathie lee and hoda coming up next. but first we've