There’s so much information out there to help you explore your college options. In order to figure out what type of college experience is right for you, try to make use of all the resources available to you.
Start first with college guide books, which provide information about colleges and universities in the United States and abroad. These books are available from bookstores and online, or you can borrow them from your local library. Guide books such as the “Fiske Guide to Colleges” offer facts about basic admission requirements such as GPA, SAT and ACT ranges, course requirements, tuition, student body demographics and feedback from current students.
Read free online college resource guides, follow college admission related blogs, read newspapers, attend college fairs, meet with your guidance counselor and talk with your parents. Look through school websites. Individual school sites provide detailed information regarding a school’s student body, curriculum, extracurricular activities, housing, Greek life, tuition and financial aid. Take virtual tours of campuses and browse through online photo galleries to get a sense of the physical setting. Look for academic, athletic and extracurricular programs you’d like to find out more about. Take notes about the various programs because it’s easy to confuse details from one school to another. Also, take a look at admissions requirements.
Once you’ve done some background research, it’s time to talk to your parents and guidance counselor to get their input. Think about who you know at the schools that interest you— it may be helpful to reach out to current students and also alum to ask questions and get a better feel for the school’s “personality.” College representatives who visit your high school or participate in college fairs in your area are another great source of information.
After your initial fact-finding, you hopefully have a better idea of the type of schools that appeal to you. Although you’re a long way off from having a final list, get a head start and make a preliminary list of schools you’d like to research further.