Admissions Expertise How important are college rankings when choosing a college? There are many resources to help students find the right colleges for them. Starting out by visiting a few campuses in different settings will help to clarify what feels right. Giving thought to your learning style, social character, intellectual interests and talents are other criteria that will pave the way toward finding the right college fit. Finding college rankings for these criteria can be very helpful. Two of my favorites are The College Finder by Steven Antonoff and The Rugg’s Recommendations by Frederick Rugg. The US News rankings are of little help, however the articles and commentary are! 981 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? Start by visiting a few colleges close to home–one in the city, one in a smaller town, a large campus, and a smaller campus. These preliminary college visits will help you discover the type of campus culture that will best suit you. Many students don’t have the opportunity to visit all the colleges that interest them. Fortunately, virtual tours are available on a number of websites including most college sites. Many colleges will have a student call, skype, or email you if you’re interested in learning more about campus life. It’s a great idea to visit a college before you commit to attending, if at all possible 181 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? College Planning takes time and each step along the way requires some forethought. Those that are methodical and organized will find the senior year much more enjoyable. Starting early in high school by getting involved in activities that are meaningful and fun and taking challenging course will pave the way for supportive teacher recommendations, insightful college essays, and a resume of activities that resonates your accomplishments. Another pitfall to avoid: Applying to colleges that are all too competitive or not challenging enough. Take an honest appraisal of your intellectual accomplishments and be sure that your college list reflects a range that will offer you choices in where to attend in the end (hopefully along with some merit scholarships). 692 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? When comparing financial aid awards it’s important to keep in mind that the COA will vary from one college to the next. The COA is not only the tuition, fees, room & board, but also books & supplies, transportation and personal expenses. Subtracting the financial aid award from the COA will determine the contribution required of the family. It’s also important to compare the total gift aid (scholarships and grants) and the self-help portion (loans, college/work-study). Managing the overall student debt is important and generally $25,000 over four years is a benchmark. Stafford and Perkins Loans are preferred over private loans. Families with financial circumstances not reflected in the EFC (Estimated Family Contribution) calculation should contact the colleges Financial Aid Offices to offer clarification and seek possible adjustments to the awards. Colleges want to make it financially feasible for their admitted students to attend. 508 Likes Like This Answer Already Liked This Answer Thank you, this item will be reviewed. What are the best ways to prepare for the SAT and which study methods are worth paying for? Understanding the testing format and having a personal strategy in place before testing are essential. The College Board has developed an extensive tool in Quick Start which personalizes the practice plan based on your pattern of answers on your PSAT. Skills Insight requires the student to be self-motivated. For a structured approach, I recommend using a tutor who can tailor the practice to your specific needs. If this is too costly, then take an online course. Decide what’s best for you and remember to take both the ACT and SAT. Colleges will accept either and some will even superscore – using the best sections from different test dates. 509 Likes Like This Answer Already Liked This Answer Thank you, this item will be reviewed.