How To Start Your College Search

With thousands of schools to choose from, the college search process may seem a bit overwhelming. Read more here to learn how to best research schools.

  • Think about whether you want a college experience that feels familiar and is similar to your high school experience or are you looking for something new?
  • The size of a school can be a defining feature. Small schools typically offer greater access to faculty, small class sizes and a strong sense of community. Large universities typically offer more majors, a wider variety of extracurricular activities and clubs, research opportunities and graduate programs.
  • What type of setting do you see yourself in? Part of the appeal of an urban school may be exactly what the city has to offer, such as internships, off campus jobs and arts and cultural events. Rural schools are generally self-contained, usually offer a greater sense of community and offer the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors. Suburban or small town schools combine a little bit of both— they tend to be self-contained but with easy access to the surrounding community.
  • An important consideration is a school’s focus. When deciding among  liberal arts, research and professional oriented schools, the main differences to consider are: the range of majors, research and internship opportunities, classes taught by professors versus teaching assistants or graduate students, and graduate study opportunities.
  • Begin your research. Start with college guide books, such as the “Fiske Guide to Colleges”, which 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 and read newspapers to learn more about schools and the admissions process. Attend college fairs in your area.
  • Look through school websites which provide detailed information about a school’s student body, required curriculum, courses of study, tuition and financial aid, housing and extracurricular activities. Look for academic, athletic and extracurricular programs you’d like to find out more about. Also, take a look at admissions requirements.
  • Take virtual tours of campuses and browse through online photo galleries to get a sense of the physical settings.
  • Ask for input. Talk to your parents and guidance counselor to get their ideas about what schools may fit your needs and interests.
  • It may be helpful to reach out to current students and also alum to ask questions and get a better feel for a school’s “personality.”
  • College reps who visit your high school or participate in college fairs in your area are another great source of information.
  • Make a preliminary list of schools you’d like to research further. After your initial fact-finding, you’ll hopefully have a better idea of the type of schools that appeal to you. There are, most likely, many schools that will be a great fit for you.




This entry was posted in Bound To Organize, Define Your Choices, Fact Finding, Researching Schools and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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