Begin The Financial Aid Process
This is the part that often provides students the most stress, but thats why we have all the advice for you!
- The Best Advice and Resources for Filling Out the FAFSA: A link to another article of links? We know. But the FAFSA is its own beast to tackle, and we have all the best advice here.
- How to Get the Most Financial Aid Possible for Your College Education: Use these tips to maximize your funding opportunities for college!
- Financial Aid Application Mistakes Can Cost You: The financial aid process is complicated. You have to complete forms, meet deadlines, and include important details. Here’s how to avoid making mistakes.
- Understanding Your College Financial Aid Package: Scholarships, loans, and grants…oh my. Here’s how to decipher exactly what’s in your financial aid package and how to maximize it to the fullest.
Ready To Start Your Journey
Choosing a college that can help you achieve both your personal and professional goals is critical to your success. Ultimately, it’s up to you to determine which factors are most important for your lifestyle and what you hope to get out of higher education. Once you’ve identified these factors, you can create a shortlist of schools and begin researching them.
This guide explains how to compare colleges, what to look for in a college, and how to estimate your chances of getting into your dream school.
How Much Does It Cost To Apply To College
There isnt a single set cost for college applications each school charges a unique amount. For example, the University of Vermont charges a non-refundable $55 application fee for undergraduate admission. Tennessee State University charges $25 for an online undergraduate application.
Even if the application fee is as low as $10 or as high as $100, you should consider these investments in your future. Its not wise to waste money applying to colleges you arent seriously considering. Its important to spend the money on a costly application fee only if its one of the top schools youre considering.
Read Also: How Does The Gi Bill Pay For College
Find Out About The Student Accommodation
If youre starting university, you will probably be moving away from your family for the first time. Therefore it is essential that the accommodation you live in is nice and friendly, somewhere you can call your home. Be prepared: you may have to learn how to cook, how to use the washing machine and how to do the washing up. And dont worry about the room-mates, flat-mates or floor-mates. In my experience it takes approximately 2.5 days to be best friends with everyone in the shared kitchen.
Start Exploring Your Options
Get started on your college application process by finding schools youâre interested in. The College Board offers a tool that can help you find colleges by location, major, type, and campus lifestyle. Reach out to school counselors, and visit campuses if you can.
Interested in online programs? There are plenty of high-quality programs to choose from, including several on Coursera. Browse through online bachelorâs degrees to see whatâs out there.
Don’t Miss: Are There Any Free Colleges
The Most Important Thing Is A Balanced Strategy
Weve touched on not wasting time creating the perfect target school list, what to keep in mind when youre considering how many schools you should apply to, as well as the Ivy League factor. Now, lets look at putting together a game plan.
A winning hand will be the perfect mix of mid-level, safety and reach schools. Basically, 3-4 schools from each category. Why? Well, as any good gambler will tell you, youve got to hedge your bets. Having a range of schools on your list will help you set ambitious goals while giving yourself back-up options. Fair and true, but it also forces you to do three very important things.
1) Know Your Cards: Picking your reach and safety schools forces you to evaluate your own profile and think like an admissions committee. Examine your strengths and weaknesses. Find the gaps in your application and do what you can to fill them. Its one of the best ways to really get to know yourself and choose the right schools.
2) Know Who Youre Playing Against: In order to categorize schools into match, safety, and reach, youve got to do your homework. Too often, students will create lists based on what they think they know, without actually going into school admissions profiles. You need to know what your school is looking for and how you compare to the other applicants.
For more info on the school selection process, check out our CEOs recent interview with Her Campus.
Do Colleges Offer Scholarships
The vast majority of college scholarships don’t require you to select that college as your preference. For these scholarships, each college will consider all eligible applicants who apply by the deadline, regardless of any college preference. If you’re selected for one of these scholarships, we’ll move your application to the relevant college.
Oxford scholarships worth over £1,000, including college scholarships, are included in our Fees, Funding and Scholarship Search. You can use this search to identify the small number of college scholarships where an additional application is required.
Don’t Miss: Is It Possible To Go To Two Colleges At Once
So Where Should I Research Colleges
Here are a few of my favorite places.
Stay on www.collegexpress.com and type in the school name. Then click Lists to see what other lists that school is on. In fact, Ive linked some of these lists directly at the bottom of this blog post.
For the pro perspective, check out the Fiske Guide to Colleges, which is the go-to guide for college research. It has great 2-3 page summaries of hundreds of colleges and is a great starting point. Why else should you get this book? Youll find out in podcast episode #110 with the author Edward Fiske.
For the student perspective, go to unigo.com where you can read real students opinions on their schools. But dont just read 1-2 reviews, read a bunch of them, in particular the Whats the stereotype of students at your school? and Is the stereotype true? Youll get a sense of the school vibe pretty quick.
For virtual campus tours, check out CampusReel.org. While there are tons of other virtual campus tour websites out there, most of them focus on what a campus looks likebut precious few websites or tours really let you get a sense of what a college campus feels like.
The tours on Campus Reel are led by real, current students, usually in selfie-mode on their phone, and you get to hear them share more about what they love about their college, whether youre following them on their way to class, in the dining hall, or at a get-together.
Are the students interested in the same things I am?
Are the dorms actually nice?
When In Doubt Shoot For 8
Generally speaking, the sweet spot for most applicants is somewhere between 8 to 12 schools. Its the number range we see most often, and the majority of clients ultimately feel most comfortable here. The division typically goes something like this:
- 2-4 reach schools
- 3-4 match/mid-level schools
- 2-4 safety schools
And this brings us to the intersection of how many schools and what type of schools students should apply to.
Reach schools are the long-shots, the real tough ones with the odds stacked against you. Theyre not impossible to get into by any means, but its going to be quite a challenge. The mid-levels are the ones that youre moderately certain youll gain acceptance to. The safety schools are the ones that youre nearly positive youll get accepted to based on factors like:
- The schools average GPA.
- The schools average ACT/SAT score of admitted students.
- The schools overall admission rates.
However, keep in mind that nothing is a sure thing. You still have to create a great application with standout essays. Without that, theres no such thing as a safety school.
What A Great Problem To Have
If you are accepted to more than one college and you are torn about deciding among them then congratulations! Congratulations on your admission and congratulations on intelligently designing your college search so that you now have wonderful options.
That said how DO you choose? I highly recommend visiting each of the campuses and attending admitted student events. Also check out the admitted student Facebook pages and Twitter feeds for each of the schools. You can learn much more about a school once you are an admitted student and this added information can be extremely helpful to you deciding on which lucky school gets to count you as a student!
FounderEducational Advisory Services
Consider Your Field Of Study
Make sure you keep in mind the main reason you are going to college in the first place: to receive an education. Even if you are not entirely sure what you want to study, ensure that the colleges you consider have the programs that interest you ð.
If you know what you want to study, you should check out a potential school’s programs to see how they rank compared to other institutions’. While national rankings â can influence your decision, they’re not everything. You want a school that can fit your individual needs while also providing a good education in whatever field of study you choose to pursue.
Also Check: How Much Does San Jacinto College Cost
Does The School Have The Extracurriculars I Want
College is a place to let your imagination run wild and explore different interests from new academic subjects to extracurricular activities like fencing or pottery. If you fell in love with a certain sport or activity as a high school student, check to see if your prospective college offers it. If you want to try a bunch of new things, look for a college that offers a diverse array of extracurriculars. While it doesnt often make sense to choose a college based on club sports or recreational hobbies alone, these activities can be a big part of campus life. Consider extracurricular offerings a tiebreaker if youre torn between two schools.
How Much Financial Aid Am I Being Offered
Once youve been accepted to a school or two, assess the financial aid packages youve been offered. Some schools have large endowments, which allow them to offer more financial aid, while others offer very little. Then, add up the following:
- Your schools financial-aid contribution
- Any state-provided aid you receive
- Any federal financial aid you qualify for
Subtract this total from each schools sticker price to calculate the actual cost of tuition. Make your decision based on this number.
Can I See Myself Here Now That Ive Visited
Campus culture can be essential to your college experience, but its one of those x-factors it can be tough to put your finger on, let alone capture through a college website or a set of statistics. If its financially feasible for you, try to schedule a campus visit and a campus tour.
When you get home, ask yourself: do you think you can see yourself thriving there? Did you feel comfortable? Did you meet any students who gave you a glimpse into the campus culture? Could you imagine yourself on campus, walking those sidewalks and learning in those classrooms? If the answer to all those questions is yes, keep that school at the top of your list.
Mistake : Focusing Solely On The Location Of The College
Solution:Consider the location of the college and the cost of traveling to and from home. Some students get excited about going far away, across the country, to college. But the reality of being so far away may be daunting once you are actually living there. Think about location and community. What kind of community would make you most comfortable? Urban? Suburban? Rural? What does the surrounding community/town/city offer?
Don’t Miss: How Many Credits To Graduate 2 Year College
How Much Is The Sat Or Act
It costs $55 to register for the SAT, $65 for the ACT without the writing portion, and $85 for the ACT with the writing portion. The good news is that you could qualify for fee waivers for both tests. Approach your school counselor to help secure the waiver. If youâre eligible, youâll also be able to apply to over 2,000 colleges that accept application fee waivers for free.
How To Research Colleges
Of course, you might feel like thats easier said than done. How do you research colleges? Where do you find all of this information?
Luckily, you have a lot of helpful sources to browse. These include:
- The official website of the college or university
- College ranking lists
- The colleges newspaper
- Online forums like Reddit
Youll find statistics and helpful information on school websites, Transizion, ranking sites, and guidebooks. Meanwhile, sources like school newspapers and forums will give you a better idea of what day-to-day life is like at the university.
If you know any current or former students, its helpful to send a text or an Instagram DM and ask a few questions. If youre comfortable with it, ask about getting together for lunch or coffee to discuss the university.
As you conduct your research, youll probably cross some schools off your initial list. You may also find some schools to add! Ultimately, your goal is to find the universities that most closely match your list of preferences and criteria.
Don’t Miss: What Are The Top Colleges
Calculate Tuition And Cost
Tuition can make or break your ability to attend a certain school, so make sure you know how much your education will cost before you commit. Take the time to understand how much tuition tends to increase each year, too, especially if youre planning on a four-year program.
Dont stop there, though. Attending college has a range of additional costs, from dorm fees to dining plans to textbook bills to general living expenses. Be sure to get the big picture.
How Can You Find Data On Prospective Colleges 3 Resources
To estimate your chances of getting into a specific school, you should compare your grades and test scores to those of the average accepted student. So where can you find this information?
There are three main sources:
- College search engines
- PrepScholar’s database and admission calculator
Let’s start with the search engines.
Recommended Reading: What To Do With Used College Textbooks
What College Should You Go To
Reflect on what’s important, where you want to be, and who you want to become. With those answers, you can figure out what types of colleges will allow you to reach your goals.
Here are some aspects to consider:
- Makeup of the student body
- Available extracurricular activities
- Campus atmosphere
Which of these are things you must have to be comfortable at a college? Which can you be more flexible about?
Also, think about what you want to accomplish in college. Do you want to train for a specific job or get a wide-ranging education? Ask yourself “What do I want to go to college for?” If you have a major in mind, are the colleges you’re considering strong in that area?
Estimating Your Chances Of Admission
By understanding what colleges look for in applicants, you can figure out which schools qualify as safety, match, or reach schools for you. You can focus on the average SAT/ACT scores and GPA of accepted students while keeping in mind the other factors that come into play for holistic admission schools.
If your own scores and GPA are much higher than those of the average accepted student, then you might consider that school a safety. If the reverse is true, then it might be a reach school for you.
To help you more precisely estimate your chances, we’ve developed a handy admission calculator. But before showing you how to use it to make your list, let’s go over the different ways you can research your colleges of interest.
Don’t Miss: How To Drop College Classes Online
How To Build Your College List
Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University
Unsure of what college to choose? This guide will provide all the information you need on building a college list.
Looking for a college can be intimidating, but youâll have a much easier time with a college list. You should start by looking at colleges around your junior year and figure out which ones you think are a good fit for you.
Once you do your college research, you can build your college list. That way, you will have already built a well-informed college list when youâre ready to start applying. In this guide, youâll learn how to organize your college list to give yourself a great head-start.
Read on for everything you need to know about how to make a college list.
Mistake : Applying Only To Reach Or Dream Schools
Solution: Make sure the list is balanced. Have a conversation with your high school college counselor to see which category each college on your list fits into given your academic and personal profile: reach , target , or safety . You need one DEFINITE safety school at the very least. Ideally, you should apply to 2-4 reach schools, 3-5 target schools, and 2-3 safety schools. If you have 8 reach schools on your list, then start cutting!
You May Like: Where Is Cedar Valley College