Admissions Expertise How important are college rankings when choosing a college? Whether it’s the Sierra Club’s “Cool Schools” survey of the greenest college campuses, Reform Judaism Magazine’s chart of the top 60 schools Jewish students choose, or Trojan’s annual report card of sexual health at America’s colleges, rankings can be a useful piece in your research. Rankings can point you to colleges that might be good matches for you, but be sure to focus on the factors that are the most important to you, and always compare multiple sources of information. Pay attention to the methodology used in compiling the rankings, and who has sponsored or contributed to the lists. 620 Likes Like This Answer Already Liked This Answer Thank you, this item will be reviewed. We don't have time or money to visit some schools I’m really interested in. What can I do? If you’ve never toured a college campus, start close to home. Practice your tour-taking skills by visiting different types of local institutions, including small liberal arts colleges, large public universities, or Jesuit colleges. Then use your reactions to help you decide which colleges in other parts of the country might be good matches. Gather information using online resources such as virtual campus tours (for example, unigo.com and campustours.com), chat sessions with student ambassadors (try CollegeWeekLive.com), and college newspapers (find links on greekspot.com/collegenews). Once you’ve received your admission offers, visit your top two or three choices before making your final decision. 822 Likes Like This Answer Already Liked This Answer Thank you, this item will be reviewed. What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process? Too many students wait until senior year to realize the rewards that a rigorous curriculum and top grades will bring, or harbor the false belief that high SAT or ACT scores will outweigh years of mediocre academic performance. Another mistake is choosing an extracurricular activity simply because you think it will look good on your college application, or assuming that you need to be involved in a long list of clubs and activities. Instead, pick one or two that are meaningful to you—ones that build on your unique interests and allow you to demonstrate commitment, accomplishment, and leadership. 624 Likes Like This Answer Already Liked This Answer Thank you, this item will be reviewed. How do I understand my financial aid package and which tips and tricks can maximize my aid? Analyze the award letters carefully, and figure out how much is being offered in grants and scholarships (the money that won’t need to be paid back) and how much represents loans. Don’t count the work-study in your calculations. Know what the total cost of attendance is at each school (not just tuition); also determine whether grants and scholarships are renewable for four years, or only offered to freshmen. Call the financial aid office if the terms of the offer are unclear, and then focus on the bottom line: how much will each college cost you and your parents out-of-pocket? 338 Likes Like This Answer Already Liked This Answer Thank you, this item will be reviewed.