Where should students begin with the college search?
You should begin the college search by getting to know yourself. How do you learn best? What are your favorite subjects? Take a personality test like the Myers-Briggs or Keirsey Temperament assessment and learn more about your personality. Explore careers and majors. Then you look for a college that will fit you. If you want to know your professors, have class discussions, and want to learn about a variety of topics, you will probably be looking for a smaller, liberal arts school. If team spirit means a lot to you, if lecture halls and note taking don’t bother you, you may want to look at large universities. Always begin with YOU.
I believe a student should have a Career Path which justifies the Major Course of Study and this assists us in filtering Colleges according to their ability to help us achieve our career goals.
First, everyone should establish a College Board account if you have not already. Once you have done this, you can do college searches on this site and save them. Plus this account can be used to register for exams. www.collegeboard.com
The best way to begin a college search is by taking a tour of multiple schools that represent a wide cross section. A group tour is a great place to begin your college search. When I take students on a tour they follow a curriculum that combines the elements of fit with experiential learning. Students who visit a variety of schools will be able to work with their college counselors to build a list of schools. Families may choose to accompany their students on select campus visits after the student has determined which schools will be the best possible match.
Students should begin by looking within. The sage advice: “Know Thyself” (in the Greek gnothi seauton) is the applicant’s most powerful currency in the college process. You can think about fit attributes all day long, but if a student has no idea whom he or she is, what are his or her values, strengths and passions, the goal of finding the best match is vacuous.
In order to differentiate oneself from the sea of other applicants, self-knowledge is critical.
Typically, the college search and application process begins in earnest during a student’s junior year. To begin the college process, try a “template trip.” Template trips offer students the opportunity to try out different college sizes (large, small), types (research, liberal arts), and settings (suburban, urban) in one trip. Some families may create a template trip in their home state, city, or region to minimize travel expenses. While other families may allow the student to choose the destination for a long-weekend trip and explore a new city’s neighborhoods via college campuses. Broadening the search process to ‘template’ schools enables students to focus on appealing attributes of a college rather than on specific institutions.
As you plan your trip, make sure to vary the selectivity of your template trip as much as possible. Exposing a student to MIT, Harvard, and Wellesley presents diversity in many respects, but in over-emphasizing the highly selective nature of college admission many high school students will be intimidated rather than inspired.
Parents set the tone for their children’s academic success. Making education a priority for your children instills a lust for learning that stays with them throughout their lives.
Many people mistakenly believe that education doesn’t really begin until high school. It seems this new phenomenon has taken hold as a result of the competition gain admission to college. However, parents and students would do themselves a huge favor to keep in mind that the earlier one fosters an appreciation for education, the more likely they will achieve academically.
What are some ways to bolster interest among students?
1) Consider summer enrichment programs in an area of the student’s passion, such as sports, music or language. Whatever the choice, it’s important that students explore various areas of interest to foster the development of passion.
2) Talk with the counselor at your child’s school and forge an open relationship that enables the counselor to get to know your child and make the most of middle school.
3) Encourage children to learn a foreign language. Not only will this prepare them for a career in an increasingly global economy, but also exposes them to a new culture which can enrich their overall learning experience.
4) Consistently meet with your child’s teachers regarding her performance. Give feedback to your child about these meetings and encourage your child to meet with the teacher’s as well. This experience shows “tweens” how a simple conversation can change not only the teacher’s view of the student, but also the student’s perspective on her performance
5) Discuss your child’s academic expectations with him in a meaningful way. Engage your child when he asks questions or seeks more information about a topic. Mentoring your child in this manner encourages him to continue similar intellectual exploration throughout his life.
6) Suggest volunteer experiences that will help your child expand her skills and learn about potential careers.
Any of these steps will lead your child down the path of self-discovery and meaningful education. Send the right message early: education is not about getting into college, education is about learning from new experiences and thinking critically about the world.
Gather information about the colleges you’re interested in. Talk with your friends, family, counselor, teachers and the college itself. Learn what the college is really like. It takes time, effort, a little money and a good deal of research, but every contact moves you closer to a better decision. Tour nearby colleges either alone or with friends. No interview or guided tour just spend time on various campuses. Get a feel for the kind of place you like.
The right college should provide enough “match” to be comfortable, with enough “mix” to expand your horizons. To grasp what this means, compare your present like and education with what you are ready to do next.
The college search can be overwhelming initially. Take it one step at a time, starting early enough so you aren’t pressured. Independent educational consultants, college fairs, guidance offices, campus tours/info sessions, family and friends, guidebooks (The Insider’s Guide), websites (Unigo!) all serve a purpose in the quest for information. If you are self directed and motivated, go for it. Some folks need a little more direction to get in the groove. Having a sense of large vs. small enrollment, public vs. private institution, rural/urban/suburban campus, and major of study can help narrow down the options. Sometimes it’s hard to decide what comes first. Just dive in and eventually you will create a context in which to compare all the information as you collect it.
While the question of where to start the college search usually leads to thoughts of websites, friends, and guidebooks, in fact the place to start is with oneself. This is because central to the process is a thoughtful self-evaluation of who one is and what they want in their college experience. For some it is all about very specific programs while others are more focused on the nature of the experience. But regardless of where the emphasis lies, the student needs to give it some serious thought and make a real effort to answer the question for oneself. As always it is about finding the right individual fit and as a result, asking and answering the questions about what you really want is the place to start. Once you have at least tentative answers to those questions, then any of countless resources, beginning with the internet, can move you in the right direction.
A colleague asked me that question this morning. Seems the young man she is working with is “not working up to his potential”. I see this so often that I am dropping everything to write about this very important topic.
I work with all kinds of kids, from the superstars going to top tier colleges to kids who are barely in line to graduate.
And guess what. I love them all.
Each and every one of these kids has gifts to share – if we don’t pay attention, then we are in danger of losing the kid as well as all that he/she can give to the world.
When I get a student like this, the first thing I want to know is why….why are they D students? Here are some of the possibilities:
***There is an undiagnosed or unaddressed learning issue. Has the student ever has a solid psycho-educational evaluation to find out learning strengths/weaknesses?
***Maybe the student has ADHD or other attentional issues. Did you know that anxiety is also something that might seem like ADHD but is not? Or that maybe it co-occurs with ADHD? Think about it – a student that is nervous or upset about a learning or personal situation is not going to be able to concentrate. So it’s important to tease out what’s ADHD and what’s an underlying psychological issue.
***Anxiety is paralyzing. I have seen too many bright kids who can’t think or perform when they are feeling anxious.
***Maybe the student has executive function issues going on – that is, he/she can’t find the work they did, forget to turn it in, bring the right book home to do the assignment, etc. These are the kids who can’t manage their time and are chronically disorganized. It can come along with all of the above issues, too.
***Maybe the kid is super bright – and doesn’t feel like doing work they find meaningless. Motivating these very intelligent kids is a huge challenge. And many gifted kids also have other issues such as learning disabilities, executive function problems, attentional problems, and anxiety. So they get to struggle with all of the above. Nice combo, huh?
***Then there are kids who are oppositional, or shut down, or angry, or depressed – all of these factors will interfere with learning and attitude. Big time.
***Maybe the teen is hanging out with the wrong crowd – and starting to make some poor choices. They might also be using substances to mask their feelings because it’s too hard to cope – or they don’t see any reason to stay sober.
***And maybe they are just immature. Some kids need longer to grow up.
***What if the kid is just lazy? Then what can we do to give them a reason to have ambition, hope for the future, and improved work ethic?
***Is the student in the right educational setting? Would they respond or have their needs met better in a different school? Do they need more teachers as mentors in their lives?
***Do they have the right study skills? It’s actually surprising how many kids actually don’t know HOW to study. They stare at the book but do not know how to organize information in any meaningful way that they can later retrieve from memory. I wish every student would be required to take a study skills course.
***Do they have anything they can be proud of? Any accomplishments? Abilities? Interests? Talents? I’m always looking for our “hook” so that we can capture their positive attributes.
***Here is something else I consider to be a very important factor. Because so many of my students are kids on the move, Third Culture Kids, or globally nomadic kids – whatever you want to call them – I also see kids who are struggling with cultural adjustment issues. When I work with therapists, I want to be sure they understand what it’s like to be in transition, start over, question your identity, give up your friends, etc. This is much more serious than a lot of people think. Some kids are just not ready to move forward with their lives until they work these issues out with a professional.
One thing I am convinced of is that every one of these kids can be reached. I’ve worked with all of the above and seen amazing stories of turnarounds. But what has to happen first is to get to the bottom of what’s getting in the way of success. They rarely “just grow out of it”. And by the time they do, they have missed out on many valuable opportunities. The older they are, the higher the stakes.
So back to the original question – are there colleges for D students? How about if we reframe the question – why is the kid a D student?
The best part of my job? When I get to work with the student from the first cries for help from the frustrated parents, see the teen transform him/herself over time, and then help with their college applications. This month I’ve read several essays from “my kids” that have moved me to tears as they look back and tell their stories of transformation. It just doesn’t get any better than that.
The first step is self-knowledge. Have you thought about your learning style, your academic abilities, your career orientation, your preferences for academic/social balance, your financial needs, geographic preferences? Have you visited any local colleges or universities to discover what you like and dislike about their size, campus culture, rural or urban location or any of the myriad other aspects of a college campus? You should begin with these basics and then start to explore college options.
The place to start the core process of building your college list is by taking an objective look at your high school record. You want to be realistic about your strengths and challenges as an applicant so that you’ll wind up with an application list of colleges across a range of selectivity — but where you have a chance of admission.
The factors that matter most to admissions committees as they review applications are GPA, especially in core courses (math, science, English, social studies, and foreign language) and rigor of curriculum. Some colleges care most about GPA, and some (especially highly selective schools) care more about how much you’ve challenged yourself academically. Colleges in the latter category generally prefer the “B” in the honors or AP course to the “A” in a regular college prep course.
Standardized test scores also play an important role at most schools. And selective schools will consider your extracurricular activities. They’re looking for evidence that you’re engaged outside the classroom.
Going to another country for university studies is a very mature decision, and the most important step of the decision process is to know exactly why you’re doing it. When I ask this question to my students in Brazil, them simply saying that they want to go to a ‘prestigious’ school in another country is not a good answer. When I hear them say this, I tell them they need to re-evaluate why they want to study abroad in the first place. That’s because a college education isn’t a pair of designer jeans or a handbag, but rather, it’s a commitment to self-improvement and a launch pad to future personal and professional success. The first step to this commitment is knowing why you want to go.
Sit down and talk with your school counselor and parents about what you are looking for in a college…size, location, setting, majors, activities, sports, distance from home, selectvitiy, etc. After you have determined some of the most important factors, use a search engine such as the one offered on UNIGO.com or collegeboard.com. Sometimes, you will discover the perfect school for you, is one you haven’t heard of or do not know much about. Using a search engine gives you a more global perspective on college options.
Junior year is probably a good time for most students to begin thinking about college in earnest. However, in terms of college preparation and building up your academic record, I feel that 9th grade is when students need to really think about time management, academic diligence, and personal accountability.
Once you are a junior in high school, it’s too late to “fix” your 9-10th grade GPAs. It is also difficult to change deeply ingrained habits.
So — while thinking about colleges can probably wait until your junior year — PREPARING for college needs to start in 9th grade.
I think geographic factors are the primary ones (weather, urban vs suburban etc). Start off with a large circle due to geographic factors, then shrink it down using other factors such as majors, size of school, public vs. private etc.
There are many factors to consider when searching for colleges. Size, distance from home, available majors, opportunities for internships, and your chances of playing a sport you love are just a few of the things to think about. When you’re ready to make a college list, make a list of the criteria that are important to you. Next, choose the one or two items on your list that are deal breakers. For example, if you absolutely must be able to study criminology, then that’s your deal breaker. Use your deal breaker to begin your search. That is, begin by looking for all of the schools that offer criminology. Once you’ve got a list of schools offering criminology, beginning narrowing your list with the other criteria you identified.
students should consider to use a worksheet as part of the college search. some online tools are also good for selecting the names and locations as initial search purpose. in the end, students may work with his or her counselor to understand the details of the most important aspects of the college search.
Despite all the hype about the difficulty of getting into college, it is important to begin your search by remembering that you are choosing colleges as much as they are choosing you. Think about your parameters: size, location, specific academic interests, cost, housing, sports, etc. The more you know about yourself; your learning style, social comfort zone, etc. the better you will be able to find your college matches. And remember there are many colleges that will suit you and want you.
There are so many places to find information about colleges and universities that it can be quite confusing. In my opinion, however, the best place to begin the college search is with the student him/herself. Students should give much thought to their own strengths, weaknesses, and interests. In what kind of environment do they feel most comfortable? How would they like to stretch themselves? How successful have they already been academically? With what combination of academics, extracurricular activities, and social life do they want to surround themselves for the duration of their university studies? When students better understand themselves, their needs, and their motivations, they are better able to focus on the institutions which would be the best fit among the vast number of options available. Accessing information about those institutions would be the next step.
In a perfect world students should begin their college search with their counselor. We do not live in a perfect world. In a public school setting meeting with your counselor to discuss college plans is extremely difficult. So the next best thing is to access web sites that provide college searches. We use both College Board and ACT college searches to help our students. These sites are easy to maneuver and provide plenty of choices to help students with college selection. Students can search broad categories for initial searches and then narrow their choices to reduce the number of colleges.
Before students begin the college search, my advice would be to make a list of all the things you think you want out of a college experience. For instance, strong academics, sports, residential campus, Greek life, etc. Try to be as thorough as possible while also considering your goals. Once you have compiled this list, then start searching for colleges via college-search sites like Unigo to begin finding colleges that have the things you are looking for.
Mike Chapman, Owner
Chapman College Admission Consulting
Before you do anything you need to ask yourself some questions.
Are you ready to go to college? College is fun, yes, but first and foremost, it is hard work. You need to be ready to commit to doing well in your classes. If you are not ready, be honest, there is nothing wrong with taking some time off to work, volunteer, travel (Gap Year).
Think about what type of college is best for you. Don’t just look at the college(s) your parent(s) went to because they want you to. They went there at least 18 years ago, colleges have changed during that time and you are a different person. Likewise, don’t just look at the large state university because that is the best football team or where all your friends will be going. Is a large college with many options better for you, or a smaller college with lots of personal attention? Do you want a college in a rural, suburban, or urban environment (they all have their pros and cons)?
Consider your strengths and weaknesses. You don’t have to know exactly what you want to major in, but it does help if you have some general direction. Write down the areas you are considering so that when you look at colleges you can find ones that offer most of your interests. If you want to specialize your options will be more limited. Is there something you really do not want to take in college? (For example foreign language) Most colleges have core requirements or distribution requirements while in college so if you do not want to take a certain subject write that down so you can investigate which colleges don’t require you to take it.
Make a list of anything that is important to you in your college (internship opportunities, study abroad, Greek life, clubs, etc.) so that you don’t forget to investigate those areas.
Keep in mind that every college has its pros and cons. Don’t look for the one perfect college, love all the colleges on your list.
By asking themselves what they would like to study – “undecided” is fine, but what might they want to study? What else should be available on campus: what sports, arts, activities? What kind of school environment will support them best, both intellectually and emotionally? Once students have a sense of what kind of college and what sort of programs would offer the best next step in education, it’s time to look at the guides and search engines to find out which colleges provide those.
Visiting different kinds of colleges, even just drive throughs: small/large; public/private; urban/rural. Read guide books. Talk to graduates.
Inside! Start with your own imagination and expectations. Imagine yourself as a college student. How are you learning and studying? What are you doing? What is it like around you? What are the other students like? How do you want to change in college? What will help you do that? Try to make your perhaps blurry expectations about college come a bit more into focus — then start ‘searching’ for the many schools that match well with what you have discovered.
Beginning a college search can appear to be overwhelming! There is just so much information out there. If you check on the PSAT/SAT “Yes” to I would like to receive information on colleges, then The College Board has your permission to sell your name and contact info to hundreds of schools. So, it should not be much of a surprise that your mailbox will soon not be big enough to contain all those very glossy brochures and viewbooks, all having incredibly attractive students on the cover and the sun is always shining!! Clearly what the schools will be sending you is beautifully written and photographed propaganda- a great sales pitch, but not the best place to begin your journey. Where you need to begin, and this is more difficult than skimming thru guidebooks or websites is to begin asking yourself the “tough” questions. This requires some deep reflection. “What would it take to make me happy”? ‘Would I prefer a large urban school with lots of energy and opportunities or a smaller private school, perhaps in rural location, which might have a stronger sense of campus community and where I could ski?” “Do I know what I want to study?” ‘How far from home would I feel comfortable going?” “Am I looking for schools with a strong sports culture and Greek life or do I prefer a campus whose culture is more focused on the Arts?” Is Religion a factor? Weather? Clearly you need to begin by coming up, at least initially, with a profile of the type of environment that would make you the happiest. Then as you continue your research you need to be honest with yourself as to where your academic profile (grades and test scores) fits with the schools that you would want to attend- that is where you then reach for the guidebooks and websites!
spend some time to think hard about what type of schools you will do well with no major change on yourself.
pick the type of schools that really focus on undergraduate study and programs
find out what kind of experiences you suppose to have throughout your college period.
The Search should begin with the most important piece of the puzzle–YOU THE STUDENT. We–the counselor, the parents, everyone need to focus on who the student is–their personality, their interests or traits, and other characteristics like
values and skills.
Why is this important?? Simply it is the KEY to everything. How can you begin a college search until you know what AREA of STUDY or Major you should be looking at?
Young people who skip this process are sorry later (see Gates Foundation, Public Agenda Report) and are certainly more prone to multiple changes in majors and/or colleges.
Because of the heavy workloads, many high schools no longer provide meaningful assessments, but not to worry because many independent counselors have assessment tools to help you with understanding your self/your student. This assessment process should be the first step and can begin in 9th or 10th grade.
Lao Tzu said that “Understanding ONESELF is TRUE enlightenment.”
The best place to start, but not end your college search, is to use guide books and rankings. But use both to narrow your choices and get further information from other sources.
I especially like the fact that you can research a number of schools in one place for a relatively small investment of cost and time. I also believe that it can be faster than visiting the websites and trying to summarize the web info of that many colleges. What is also great about guide books is that usually it is easy for you to compare all colleges on the same selected factors. This is a great place to start (but not end) your research. Pay attention to the tone of the review, while it may appear to be unbiased, it probably isn’t. Use guide books to make a short list of your schools and then get further information on them from other sources.
Similar to guide books, rankings are nice to show the number of schools that may be a good fit for you. But it’s important to know the methodology of the ranking; how number one versus number 100 was determined. If you had access to the raw numbers, you’ll be surprised to know that sometimes there are very small differences in scores, for example, between number 15 and 20. Also, try to determine how the information was gathered. Who supplied the information? When was the research conducted? The answers to these questions can change the results of the rankings. Some of the factors considered may not be important to you or be as heavily weighted if you were to come up with your own ranking. You may have noticed that different rankings have different results, so look for consistency. I like to divide rankings into quarters and then see if a school consistently falls in a particular quarter. Not every school participates in every ranking, so don’t assume if they are not listed, they were below the lowest university on the ranking. Therefore, use the information carefully and wisely.
The most important step of the college search process is to know exactly why you’re even doing it. When I ask this question to my students in Brazil, them simply saying that they want to go to a ‘prestigious’ school is not a good answer. When I hear them say this, I tell them they need to re-evaluate why they want to go to college in the first place. That’s because a college education isn’t a pair of designer jeans or a handbag, but rather, it’s a commitment to self-improvement and a launch pad to future personal and professional success. The first step to the process is knowing why you want to go.
Figure out what it is that you want in a college. Do you want to be in a city, suburb, rural? Big school, small school, medium school? How far are you willing to go away to school? What does the ideal campus look like in your head? That is where I would start. After you figure those things out, then begin looking at your potential majors. Which schools offer the major that I want? Do those schools match what I want in a University or College? Then visit those schools that match your goals and wishes. After visiting you begin to understand which colleges will be right fit for you and which ones won’t.
Finding an entry point into the overwhelming and often confusing college search process can daunting. The extensive selection of books and how-to guides can leave you completely bewildered, however. While they can offer some helpful advice, the truth of the matter is that these books cannot do the real hard work that awaits you. Getting started with the college process means doing something that you might be unfamiliar with: introspection. Think about the kind of education you would like and the kind of place where you would want to be. How far do you want to go? What kind of climate do you want? What sort of learning environment would be most conducive to your success; seminars around a table or a large lecture hall? Do you want to be around people of a similar background as you or in a more diverse population? These are only a sample of the dozens of questions you should be mulling over. This exercise in “checking in” with yourself will not only make college decisions much clearer, but will be an invaluable tool to you in all the big life decisions with which you will be faced.
Finding an entry point into the overwhelming and often confusing college search process can daunting. The extensive selection of books and how-to guides can leave you completely bewildered, however. While they can offer some helpful advice, the truth of the matter is that these books cannot do the real hard work that awaits you. Getting started with the college process means doing something that you might be unfamiliar with: introspection. How far do you want to go? What kind of climate do you want? What sort of learning environment would be most conducive to your success; seminars around a table or a large lecture hall? Do you want to be around people of a similar background as you or in a more diverse population? These are only a sample of the dozens of questions you should be mulling over. This exercise in “checking in” with yourself will make college decisions much clearer.
Finding an entry point into the overwhelming and often confusing college search process can daunting. There are countless books and websites vowing to unlock the golden secret of how to “get in. The extensive selection of books and how-to guides can leave you completely bewildered, however. While they can offer some helpful advice, the truth of the matter is that these books cannot do the real hard work that awaits you. Getting started with the college process means doing something that you might be unfamiliar with: introspection. Think about the kind of education you would like and the kind of place where you would want to be. Location often becomes a pivotal factor in guiding the college selection process. How far do you want to go? What kind of climate do you want? What sort of learning environment would be most conducive to your success; seminars around a table or a large lecture hall? Do you want to be around people of a similar background as you or in a more diverse population? These are only a sample of the dozens of questions you should be mulling over. This exercise in “checking in” with yourself will not only make college decisions much clearer, but will be an invaluable tool to you in all the big life decisions with which you will be faced.
Finding an entry point into the overwhelming and often confusing college search process can daunting. The extensive selection of books and how-to guides can leave you completely bewildered, however. While they can offer some helpful advice, the truth of the matter is that these books cannot do the real hard work that awaits you. Getting started with the college process means doing something that you might be unfamiliar with: introspection. Think about the kind of education you would like and the kind of place where you would want to be. Location often becomes a pivotal factor in guiding the college selection process. How far do you want to go? What kind of climate do you want? What sort of learning environment would be most conducive to your success; seminars around a table or a large lecture hall? Do you want to be around people of a similar background as you or in a more diverse population? These are only a sample of the dozens of questions you should be mulling over. This exercise in “checking in” with yourself will not only make college decisions much clearer, but will be an invaluable tool to you in all the big life decisions with which you will be faced.
Students should start the search from within. What I mean by that is that students should start with the old ‘what do I want to be when I grow up’ question. They don’t need to answer it directly. In fact, they should expect that their answer will evolve over time. But they should have an idea of what excites them – what academic subjects, what potential careers, what extra-curricular activities and what type of school – big/small, rural/urban, far from home/close to home.
Only then can they effectively ‘dive in’ and sort through the 4000 colleges in this country.to find the ones that fit their needs and goals.
The college search always starts with YOU! Before you begin looking for your best fit colleges, you have to understand yourself. Start by answering these questions: Who am I? What are my strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, interests and passions? What do I want to study? Where do I want to live for the next four to six years? What kind of academic environment works best for me? How will I get involved on a college campus? What can I afford? What do I hope to gain from the college experience? Once you have the answers to these questions, try a few college search engines to see what schools pop up. Pick some colleges that interest you from the generated lists and start your research.
Student need to begin with themselves and serious soul-searching. They need to ask themselves many questions and even if they are not ready with answers to all the questions, thinking about these questions will provide preliminary information for future decision-making. Many counselors, guide books and websites provide these questions, such as: How far away from home do I want to study? Am I looking for a particular location, such as urban, suburban, rural? Climate? What is the difference between a liberal arts college, research university, state college and how do these definitions fit into my plan? What do I want to study? What career do I have in mind at this time? Since many students are undecided, are there numerous career/major options available? How do I feel about class size – small vs. lecture halls? Will my family be able to afford this college? What percentage of students received enough financial aid to attend? I have found that in the beginning of the college search, some of these questions students have not thought about yet and do not have immediate answers. As they start the discussion with their parents and other significant adult advisers, along with some college research and perhaps a visit or two to a college campus, they start to formulate preferences which propels them on their journey.
High school seniors: Look into the colleges and universities in your city or town first, and submit those admissions applications right away. Then start looking for more colleges and universities in other areas of the state or country you are interested in, and get those applications in before their application deadline. Visiting the colleges and universities closest to you that you can drive to or take a bus to get there. If you go out of town for any reason, and there is a college or university in the city you are visiting, go check it out to see if you are interested.
High school juniors, sophomores, and freshmen: Do not wait until senior year to start looking. Start by visiting the colleges and universities closest to you that you can drive to or take a bus to get there. If you go out of town for any reason, and there is a college or university in the city you are visiting, go check it out to see if you are interested. Do this as often as possible, and start a list of possible colleges. You should be able to have a final list of colleges to apply to by the beginning of your senior year.
Parents of younger children: Visit local colleges and universities when you have a chance, and take your children with you. If you go out of town for any reason, and there is a college or university in the city you are visiting, pay the campus a visit. Many schools have community events that offer activities for children. Take advantage of these opportunities to introduce the concept of college, and the importance of a college education to your children. Also find out for yourselves what these colleges and universities have in mind for the future of the college or university, the community, and its future students in everything from tuition and other costs to extracurricular offerings to academic programs.
With themselves. All too often we tend to look at issues through the eyes of others and fancy that perspective to be our own. Wrong! We are unique in terms of our wants, needs and preferences. When looking at prospective institutions where we might spend the next four or five years and grow up in the process, we should begin with investigating what we are all about. What makes us happy, fulfilled, excited and successful? Under what conditions are we at our best? What’s our idea of fun? If we pay attention to the answers to these and other personal questions, we can begin to get a sense of the characteristics we might seek in a college or university. In other words. what works for us, not the other way around.
On the internet, in the counselors office on UNIGO, anywhere that they trust the information and they are not being dismissed for needing to know.
If you have determined your career path, or have a general idea, try to find a college that has a good reputation by contacting firms that are prospective employers in that area. If you have not determined your major, make a list of items that are important to you, such as: location, cost, living arrangements, urban or rural, athletic events, support services available, entrance requirements… Research Colleges and Universities on-line to find matches, then contact their admissions office for further information.
Think of the college search as a funneling process. You will most likely start with a large number of schools and by narrowing down your preferences (size, location, majors offered, etc.) you will see your number shrink to something more manageable. There are many interenet sites that can help with this, and as most students have a college board account, I would recommend this as a good starting point. As you learn more about what you want in a college you can refine your search. College visits, regardless of your interest in a college are a good way to learn about the difference between large v. small; conservatory v. traditiional; private v. public.
As a counselor, I always advise that students in the 10th through 12th grade begin with their high school counselor. If a student has already graduated, he or she can go back to their high school to ask if their previous counselor would be willing to meet with them to discuss future college interests. If that does not work; students can search online for the nearest college to assist them with career choice selections. Students should also consult with their parents to seek advice as well. I often suggest that students select five colleges of interest; then look at programs they might be interested in; and finally, visit the college to speak with a college admissions representative and adviser. If students are computer savvy, they can do much research online themselves, then share it with a parent of adult who has already earned a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Through the duration, keep a positive mental attitude as it can be like a part-time job trying to decide where you want to attend.
Visit every colllege you come in contact with. While on vacation with your parents at age 10 or 15. The college search begins when college awareness becomes the priority.
I always suggest that student who truly have no idea where to start, do so by going to a college search web site such at Unigo or The College Board where they can assist students in considering some of the broader things to consider when narrowing the field of schools to consider. These are things like the size, location, academic reputation, programs offered and cost of the school. Deciding your needs in these basic areas will help to narrow the field of potential schools greatly. Once you have that smaller list, you can start to look through schools to gain a sense of the variety of options that you have. Soon you will learn as you do this what things are most important and what you can live without. Make note of these things and then narrow the field again.
I believe it is important for students to first sit down and take stock of who they are and what is important to them before starting their search. Students should be taking the time to think about aspects of who they are such as their skills, abilities, values, interests, personality, and learning style. A reflective exercise like this challenges a student to recognize who they are and own that recognition. By doing so, they become more informed and therefore can make more intentional decisions about the types of schools they want to consider.
FISKE! This is a great book to start the process with!
I encourage students to cast a wide net and narrow down from there. Here are some questions to consider in pulling together a list of potential colleges.
1) Geographic – Do you have any geographic constraints? If you are open to attending college in any region of the country and view it as an adventure or even a cultural exchange your list will remain large but that means lots of opportunities!
Some geographic constraints could include issues such as weather – if you can’t survive over 70 degree temperatures scratch off Florida and Hawaii. If freezing weather stops you in your tracks then consider removing Minnesota, Maine, and Montana.; family support – maybe you want to be able to get home within 6 hours to help with a family business, family illness, or family celebrations. If so, look at colleges that are within a six hour drive, flight, or train ride.
2) Academic – Do you have any specific academic interests? If so, look for colleges that offer them. If you are interested in subjects like English or History this criteria will not slim down your list very much! If you have two or three significant interests you may be constrained to larger universities that will have a broaden array of areas to study.
3) Involvement – What are your extracurricular interests? If you enjoy cheering on the football team then why not look at colleges that meet you geographic and academic needs that also has a football team.
4) Culture – Think about the environment and setting you will spend four years studying. Do you want a relationship with professors that will extend outside the classroom? Do you want a highly competitive student body? Do you want an urban setting or more rural? Do you want a college where being in a fraternity or sorority is the primary path to involvement?
5) Fit – For all of the areas above there are no magic list that you can download or ask for. You have to look at your own interests to find the answers. Being honest with yourself will provide you a greater chance of finding a great fit in your college choice. The clincher will be to visit the campuses you have narrowed down to in order to see of the campus “feels right”.
Best wishes in your college choice process!
– Start with looking at yourself. Think about what caliber school you can expect to get into given your grades, extracurriculars, etc. A realistic portrait of your own achievements, qualities and abilities is the best way to have a fruitful admissions process where you can find the school that’s right for you.
– You can do this by looking at schools median SAT scores and grades to get a good idea of where you stand academically, but qualitative details like educational philosophy, class size, political leanings and student characteristics will help you find the school that fits you best.
At the local level, next comes the Internet, and on campus interviews follow, but make sure schools are in session!
Absolutely, positively, without a doubt, you should start by taking a good look at yourself. What kind of student are you – one who learns best in smaller, interactive classroom with lots of discussion, or in lecture-based classes where you can take notes and reflect on them later? Are you better in group work or on your own? And how about as a person – are you shy or outgoing? A “doer” or somewhere who holds back at first? You need to make a list of characteristics you want in a college – you need to know what you’re shopping for before you start looking. Once you have a list of three or four essential qualities a college has to have, then you’re ready to wade through the masses of colleges out there to find the ones that are right for you. Those characteristics also give you criteria on which you create your own rankings of colleges, instead of relying only on the published rankings that are built on other peoples’ criteria.
All students should begin with a question and answer session with themselves (or a college admissions consultant) to get a clear understanding of what they want in college and their reasons for attending. Once the guidelines and wish list are set up, then there are a variety of online and print sources that can be accessed. When working with clients, I often give the step by step resources that really help to keep things in perspective and stress free.
Begin your college search by having a conversation with yourself. What matters to you most: more choices in class titles, or a small class where I can raise my hand and ask a question? Do I need to attend sporting events in a huge stadium? Could I deal with a campus far from the city, or do I need to be able to go home frequently? Does weather matter to me? Do I have to attend a school that everyone knows, or am I open to lesser known schools? How far from home am I willing to be? How much financial aid will I need, and will I be eligible to apply for scholarships based or grades or talent? Once you’ve figured out some of these answers, you should begin with a good college search engine, such as the one here on the unigo site. Knowing yourself will help guide you to the best choices for your personal college list.
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The sources for school statistics and data is the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.
This is an offer for educational opportunities that may lead to employment and not an offer for nor a guarantee of employment. Students should consult with a representative from the school they select to learn more about career opportunities in that field. Program outcomes vary according to each institution’s specific program curriculum. Financial aid may be available to those who qualify. The information on this site is for informational and research purposes only and is not an assurance of financial aid.