Selecting a College
Your first step should be an honest self-assessment of…
· your academic profile (classes taken, grades, test scores)
· your family’s financial situation (what’s affordable)
· other characteristics you bring to the college-search process (for example, your interests and goals, athletics, special talents, volunteer experience, other extra-curricular activities)
The second step is to develop a list of criteria for colleges you might be interested in learning more about. Think about…
· size of school
· size and variety of classes
· residential life
· selectivity (how many applicants are admitted)
· retention rate (how many first-year students continue for a second year)
· graduation rate (how many entering freshmen graduate 4, 5, or 6 years later)
· majors you might be interested in pursuing
The third step is to gather further information about colleges that sound interesting to you. You can use catalogs that the colleges publish, their websites, college guide books—these sources will give you basic information from different viewpoints—but the best way to really learn what a college is like is to visit it and ask a lot of questions while you’re there.
These are also many college search websites that can be useful, so try some of these…
· College Board advanced search lets you search by criteria like size, location, major, activities, admission, etc.
· Peterson’s College Search is similar to College Board’s
· Princeton Review Online provides information on college search, careers, majors, etc.
· Colleges that Change Lives is based on Loren Pope’s acclaimed 1996 book (revised in 2000) that focuses on small liberal arts colleges and on finding the right “fit” in a college experience
· NCAA Clearinghouse for student/athletes—information on Division I and II schools
· For students who took the PSAT, College Board offers free access to its “My Road” site with resources about colleges, majors, and careers
· U.S. Universities by State—this site links directly to just about all accredited U.S. institutions