By now, you’ve probably compiled a preliminary list of schools that interest you. Review your choices and create a final list of schools. Develop a balanced list including a mix of safety, reach and target schools, both academically and financially, so you ultimately have several schools to choose from.
Consolidating your preliminary list may seem like an impossible task because no one school seems to meet all of your criteria. Think about what matters most to you to identify the colleges that match most with your interest. Take into consideration academic programs and rigor, geographic location, student body, clubs and activities, cost and your chance of admission.
Use information available to you from school visits, info sessions, individual college websites and other online resources including college search tools, open discussions, rankings, interactive tools, and any resources provided by your high school. This will help you to identify the schools that are truly the best fit for you. What’s your gut feeling? How did you feel when you visited the school (personally or on a virtual tour)? If you sat in on a class or ate at a dining hall, think back to what you observed going on around you. Can you see yourself there for the next four years?
It may be helpful to reach out to current students you know to get their perspective on the school. Ask them the questions you really want the answers to – the ones you don’t want to ask in an info session. Recent graduates may also be a great resource to connect with.
This is also a good time to have a discussion with your parents about the costs of attending college. Make sure your list includes schools that are both on target and a reach financially, to ensure that you will be able to afford to attend a college of your choice.
Ultimately, many things make a school a good fit. There are over 2,500 colleges and universities in the United States and there’s more than one perfect school for you. Think about what type of college experience you want. Share your thoughts with your parents and consult your guidance counselor. Take the time now to compile a list of your requirements, do your research and put together a balanced list of schools, and you should have more than one option to choose from.