What is the best way to start researching colleges?

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Our counselors answered:

What is the best way to start researching colleges?

Reecy Aresty
College Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & Author Payless For College, Inc.

What is the best way to start researching colleges?

Talk to your guidance counselor for advice and contact admissions experts for some ideas when you start your own research. Get copies or search the Internet for Princeton Review ratings, CRS (College Raking Service), Best Colleges, and any number of specific reports on engineering, arts, music, drama or other such schools. Be sure to have your checklist out to rate the schools based on your preferences. This is just the beginning!

Joyce Vining Morgan
Founder and college counselor Educational Transitions

What is the best way to start researching colleges?

A general guide is one way. Some are very basic, and others more chatty - check them out at a big bookstore before you buy. General online search engines are similar - there are many, but the www.collegeboard.org is probably already on your radar. Then go to the college websites.

Mark Gathercole
University Advisor Independent University Advising

What is the best way to start researching colleges?

Start by first looking inward and figuring out what you want in a college; what's important to you - what are the three or four essential qualities that a college must have in order to attract you? Then you know what you're shopping for, which makes it more likely that you'll find what you want. Then use the resources, both online and in print, to do your research. Use mostly impartial sources, along with university websites.

Nancy Milne
Owner Milne Collegiate Consulting

What is the best way to start researching colleges?

How you research colleges depends on your personal preferences. If you love your computer, you can surf the web. If you value other's opinions, start asking anyone you respect for their thoughts on their alma maters. If you love holding a book in your hands, head to the library or bookstore and you'll find plenty to choose from. You may find it helps to focus on areas of academic interest and schools that specialize in that field. Size and location are also common points of distinction made early in the process. While all this research can be fascinating, it can also feel overwhelming; that's what college counselors are for. Don't hesitate to ask for help is sorting through the information; staying organized at this time is important and you can't ignore your high school studies.

Carita Del Valle
Founder Academic Decisions

What is the best way to start researching colleges?

Start by visiting campuses in your area of different sizes, curriculum and type (private verse public). Once you have done a few of these, you begin to identify things you liked and didn't like, majors or programs that really got you excited, and location issues that will now aid you in developing a more personal and precise college possibilities list.

Ellen erichards@ellened.com
Owner Ellen Richards Admissions Consulting

What is the best way to start researching colleges?

The best way to start researching colleges is by determining the geographic region that you think that you would be most interested in exploring for the next four years (three if you decide to take your junior year abroad). Often students under estimate the impact of the geography and the weather differences between what they are custom to and what they would face at the college. Another factor to consider is how far away the student would be from ones family. Sometimes students are not at all affected by this. Other times, students choose to stay close to their family for support but eventually (usually after the first year away) they find their own space within that community and don’t depend on their family as much for the remainder of their time at college. The next step would be to consider ones talents, do you shift potential grades, the curriculum that they have taken, and test scores as well as any other qualities that they could reveal to the school that the stuff that the college would consider admirable treats that would lead them to admitting the student. Once a student has an idea where they stand they should then research to the colleges very thoroughly because every colleges are different and every admissions office decides who to admit in different ways and so thorough research once you get into this point is absolutely about most important. If the student does his/her homework then the possibilities for where they may attend their college are endless.

Karen O'Neill, MSEd
Counselor KSO College Counselling

What is the best way to start researching colleges?

There are so many amazing choices for students, that it may feel overwhelming at first, as you try to narrow your choices down to a manageable list. But here are some ideas about tackling this project. 1. Understand your choices based upon your financial resources. If your parents/guardians are helping you, ask them directly how much tuition is affordable. 2. What kind of weather do you prefer? As obvious as this question seems, it will help you immediately eliminate regions in our country if you love snow, or want to be in sunny weather all the time. 3. Decide how large a role religion and or politics play in your life. Is it important that your religion is well represented on campus? Or do you want to be in a politically progressive environment? By reading the descriptions in College Handbooks, you can find the answers to these questions about schools. 4.Do you any visible or invisible special needs? Do you want to be on a LGBTQ friendly campus? The answers to these questions are important lifestyle issues, and will help you find yourself on a campus that may be responsive to your lifestyle needs. 5. Standardized test scores: Your scores are also a factor in eliminating schools from your search. Where are you qualified to apply? 6. Expenses and distance. traveling to and from school to home, especially during peak holiday travel periods can be expensive. If you and your folks cannot afford a lot of travel expenses, then plan on applying to schools that are easy to get home.

Felice Kobrick
Owner, College Consultant, Kobrick College Consulting, LLC

What is the best way to start researching colleges?

The web is chock full of information--both from primary sources (the colleges themselves) and from secondary sources (fiske, us news & world report, etc.). Sites like Unigo and collegeprowler also provide direct advice from students on campus--you can't beat that!

Zahir Robb
College Counselor The Right Fit College

What is the best way to start researching colleges?

There are any number of search engine's out there that can help with this process, namely the one offered through College Board. You start by entering some criteria that will be used to refine your search and slowly but surely you can start to whittle down your choices. Unfortunately, with roughly 4,000 colleges represented, the list can still be quite large when all is said and done. This is why I recommend working with a college advisor, as they can help point you in the right direction and use their personal experience to find you that right fit college.

Benjamin Caldarelli
Partner Princeton College Consulting, LLC

What is the best way to start researching colleges?

The very best way to begin the college selection process is to start even before high school. This means arranging family trips to some major education centers like Boston, New York, Chicago, or LA where the focus does not have to be exclusively on seeing colleges, but students can have the opportunity to see a variety of types of colleges. When a student reaches high school, he or she (and family) can begin an ongoing conversation with a counselor, either at school or privately, who can talk to them about their interests and values and expose themt to the best print and online resources.