What to Consider when Creating your College List?
Deciding where to attend college can be a scary and daunting task. To make the process less stressful it is important to research and educate yourself about what colleges and universities have to offer. Throughout the process keep in mind that there is no single path to your future, just focus on finding the best path for you. Here are some things to consider when doing your research:
• Allocate Time: It is important to not procrastinate and wait until the application deadline to start your research. Set aside some time to learn what each school has to offer, their application process, and any additional requirements they may have.
• Peer or Friend Pressure: Choosing a college or university because you want to be with your friend, boyfriend, or girlfriend seems inviting at the time. But the most important thing to remember is that it is your future and the choices you make should be for your benefit. Your real friends will remain your friends, whether you attend college together or not.
• Alma Mater: While your parents have great intentions and are excited about the possibility of you attending the college or university that they attended, finding the right fit college for you should be forefront in your college planning. Creating a college list with a healthy balance of likely, match, and reach schools is important. Plan to apply to a variety of schools that will yield options. Remember, there are no guarantees that you will be accepted to your parents’ school, especially if it is a highly selective ivy.
• Prestigious Name: Highly ranked schools do not necessarily correlate to a great education for every student. Remember, you need to be in a school that is the best academic fit for you. You know your academic ability, what you like, and where you feel comfortable. Make your decision based on how the school meets all of your objectives. Students will get a good feel for where they belong, and quite often make their final decision when they visit the college campus.
• Love the location: Most places look great during the summer or milder weather months. Make sure you know what it is like in the depths of winter. Research the location and know whether you’ll be happy in an urban, suburban or rural area. Plan to visit if you can.
• It’s a party school or you love their teams: Yes, the extracurriculars, sports, social activities, and students are important factors in the college planning process but should not be the primary focus. Your goal is to graduate with a great education and a degree. A healthy balance should be incorporated into your college decision making.
• I know what I want to study: You might know the major you want to study, or you may be undecided. Select colleges and universities that offer a broad range of majors and academic opportunities. “Within 3 years of initial enrollment, about 30 percent of undergraduates in associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs who had declared a major had changed their major at least once” NCES.ed.gov. Having a wide range of academic options will provide you the opportunity to investigate majors and career opportunities.
• Can I afford it? Part of your college research and planning should incorporate the cost of attendance. Know the total cost of attending each school, your financial capabilities, and options. However, don’t be put off from applying to a school due to cost, several schools meet 100% of what is deemed to be your financial need.
There are several free online resources to help with your college search like the College Navigator, College Niche, virtual college tours, and visiting the college website, to mention just a few options. Make sure to utilize all of the great online resources to narrow down your choice.
Selecting the colleges and universities that you want to apply to is exciting and a big investment, just make sure that you are an educated buyer.