Washington Monthly College Rankings
According to Washington Monthly, its annual college rankings rate four-year schools based on what they do for the country. This nontraditional list takes into account each schools contributions to the public good and rates them based on factors including social mobility, research, and opportunities for public service.
The rankings include more than 1,400 public and private colleges, and while its less customizable than competitors, it does provide a unique ranking of schools youre not likely to find elsewhere. You can also review schools grouped in different categories, such as best bang for the buck colleges and best colleges for adult learners.
What Does It Mean For A College To Be Your Best Fit
This nebulous notion of best fit cant be easily quantified the way that cost of attendance or miles from home can. Its also very individual. What makes a college a good fit or a bad fit differs from one student to another. Also, more than one college may have just what you are looking for. You want your college experience to be memorable!
If the physical environment is important to you, you might find that your best fit is in a bustling city or in a rural area. Ending up with the wrong fit environmentally could leave you feeling overloaded and claustrophobic or, conversely, bored.
The right fit might refer to your schools values. If youre a devout Christian, you may feel more comfortable and fulfilled at a Christian school than a school with no religious affiliationbut, if youre an outspoken atheist, a school with core values based in any religious teaching is likely to feel like the wrong fit.
Consider what opportunities, like elective courses and extracurricular activities, different schools offer for your own personal enrichment. Small factors that can make a school feel like your best fit might include opportunities to play intramural basketball, the existence of a campus anime club, and classes in niche subjects like fandom rhetoric, the ice cream industry or the politics of Beyoncé.
Wall Street Journal/times Higher Education Rankings
The Wall Street Journal/Times higher education rankings, encompassing more than 1,000 U.S. colleges and universities, focus on student engagement and outcomes compiled from survey data submitted from more than 200,000 students. Surveys ask students about satisfaction with their college experience based on their studies, interactions with instructors, and the reasons behind their college choice. Four criteria, or pillars, are weighted in each ranking: Resources, Engagement, Outcomes, and Environment.
Additionally, the Wall Street Journal/Times reports study worldwide higher education rankings with slightly different criteria, but individual U.S. college results can still be sorted by international ranking. This may be useful data for students interested in studying abroad or working internationally after graduation, and want to know how their potential school would be regarded in those contexts.
The Wall Street Journal/Times individual college summaries and results pages go a bit more in-depth than their competitors, but the actual college rankings as a whole dont diverge wildly from those youll see on other college data sites. Still, note the student survey and international comparisons here as potentially valuable differentiators when doing your own college research.
Recommended Reading: What Colleges Are Test Optional
Lock In Your Safety Reach And Match Schools
Its important to look at your academic record and abilities and focus on colleges that match them. Before you invest time and money in applying to any colleges, compare the average admitted students credentials to your own. That will help you figure out if youll almost certainly be admitted , if youll probably be admitted , or if you may not be admitted . You should also consider the cost of tuition, percentage of the student body receiving financial aid, and average amount of aid this information will help you and your family rank the school for its financial feasibility too.
However…heres the most important thing about choosing your safety, reach, and match colleges: make sure they’re all schools youd be happy to attend. Truly, legitimately, genuinely happy. Dont treat your safety schools as throwaways, and dont make your reaches the three most selective schools youve ever heard of. Keeping an open mind is often the secret to success in collegeand that “safety” school might be your dream school after all.
Know Exactly How Much Your Attendance Will Cost
As you start to narrow down your list of potential colleges, begin to figure out exactly how much it will cost you. Its not easy for young adults to fully grasp the concept of money, so its important to realize that student loan debt is a huge commitment, and is likely to follow you around for decades.
Begin by using websites like College Navigator to find tuition costs, information about how much tuition is likely to rise, and the percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid. Then check out the colleges personalized cost calculator to figure out your proposed annual cost based on your individual needs. Once you know how much debt youll have come graduation day, you can research further. Explore the website PayScale to discover a colleges average Return On Investment . If a school is expected to cost you $249,000 over the course of four years, but has a 20-year net ROI of $1.123 million as is the case with Massachusetts Institute of Technology then more likely than not you will be able to comfortably repay any loans. If you already have an idea of future career, researching its ROI is also helpful.
Don’t Miss: How To Find Entry Level Jobs After College
The College Finder Quiz
Our degree finder tools will help you discover the best school in Europe for your needs and interests. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to study in Europe â take our college quiz today and find your perfect match! If you have any additional questions or want to learn more about studying in Europe, we offer a range of resources and contact information to help you along the way. So if you’re considering studying abroad for your college degree, don’t be afraid to explore the opportunities in Europe â and take our college quiz to find the best fit for you.
Let Colleges Come To You
A representative from So and So University will be at Your High School on such and such a day. Sound familiar? Go to these information sessions, even if youve never heard of the college or university. Its a great way to learn about all of your options and establish personal connections with the people who decide whether to admit or deny applicants.
Don’t Miss: What Is The Best Tablet For College
How To Find Your Best Fit College
To find the right college fit for you, think about what you need in four different categories: academics, campus culture, financial aid, and career services. For 28 years, we’ve surveyed students at hundreds of colleges about their experiences on campus. We’ve learned a lotfirst and foremost, that no two students are exactly alike, and no two schools are exactly alike. That’s why we publish our ranking lists and school profiles every year: to help you compare colleges and find the best college fit for your unique personality and goals.
How To Decide What College To Go To
There’s no easy answer to the question “What college should I go to?”
Everyone’s aspirations are unique. There’s a good chance you’ll find several good match schools that check off every box. Consider what factors are most important to you. Keep an open mind, explore all opportunities, and send in several applications to keep your options open.
There’s no shortage of excellent schools to prepare you for your future. Learn more about them at BigFuture. Narrow your options and find the perfect match.
Don’t Miss: How To Get Into College Early
Take The Tour But Get Off The Beaten Path Too
The organized tour, usually given by a shining star of a current student, might just be a colleges best marketing tool. Its thoughtfully designed to sell you on a product that just happens to cost thousands of dollars and at least four years of your life. Definitely take the tour, photograph the highlights, and ask questionsbut dont depend solely on the tour.
As youre making plans to visit a potential college, plan to spend a little extra time exploring. Sit in on classes and visit popular hangouts where you can chat with current students who havent been given a script to follow. Go further by checking out social media groups dedicated to students or alumni of the college, or a school club in which you may be interested. If you know any alumni, talk to them, too. How do they feel about their alma mater now that theyve graduated and have lived in the real world?
Language And Soft Skills
As a student studying abroad in Europe, you will have the opportunity to develop valuable communication skills. Living on a campus with people from different cultural backgrounds may require adaptability and flexibility in your communication style. If you are not fluent in the local language, you will learn to read body language and avoid using jargon or slang that may not be understood. The direct communication skills you develop will also improve as you learn to choose your words carefully and effectively.
Fortunately, many universities in Europe offer free language lessons for international students, allowing you to practice your language skills through daily interactions with native speakers and other students. It is important to remember that true fluency is gained through real-life experiences and interactions, which can be enhanced by the diverse academic and cultural environments offered at European universities.
Read Also: How Do Waldorf Students Do In College
Alternative Pathways To A Career
Search for apprenticeship jobs and programs on apprenticeship.gov.
Use the MyNextMove.org tool for career exploration and job analysis.
Find training programs: compare completion rates, employment rates, and more on TrainingProviderResults.gov.
Visit CareerOneStop.org, your source for career exploration training and jobs.
Explore the Occupational Outlook Handbook for detailed information about over 300 occupational profiles.
Use The Birkman Assessment
Uncover your strengths, goals, and interests with the Birkman for an accurate and reliable personality assessment.
The Birkman is so reliable that many Fortune 500 companies use it to hire, organize, and promote employees. Thats one of the reasons the Birkman is the gift that keeps on giving.
Not only will it help uncover possibly overlooked interests, but it will also help identify the environment which will allow your student to thrive. This is helpful in dealing with roommates, working with mentors, choosing classes, exploring career options, and more.
Because career prospects are constantly shifting, the Birkman will continue to be a useful tool if the time comes to switch careers later on. When an individual clearly understands their strengths, behaviors, interests, and goals, they are in a position to identify the best opportunities for themselves in any circumstance.
Also Check: Are Online College Classes Harder
How To Determine A Colleges Culture During A Campus Visit
While touring the campus, ask your guide about campus life and what types of activities and facilities are available to students. If there is a particular sport or activity that you are interested in, take a look at the facilities available.
Get permission to attend a class in session. Observe the professors style of teacher and their interaction with the class. Do you see yourself as one of the students in that class or was the teaching style too aloof for you?
Speak to a couple of students and ask them their opinion about the faculty, facilities, and overall culture on campus. Do the students look happy or do they look stressed?
Having a meal in the cafeteria and spending at least one night in the dorm can give you invaluable insight into the culture on campus. Is it something you can relate to?
How To Find The Perfect College For You How To Find The Perfect College 2022
Finding the perfect college can seem like a daunting task, but with a little research and self-reflection, it is possible to find a college that fits your needs and goals. Here are some steps to help you find the perfect college for you:
Determine your academic and career goals: Before you start looking at colleges, it is important to have a clear idea of what you want to study and what you hope to do after graduation. Consider what you are interested in and what you excel at academically. You should also think about what career you hope to have after college and what type of college will best prepare you for that career.
Research colleges: Once you know what you want to study and what career you hope to have, start researching colleges that offer programs in those areas. Look at the course offerings, faculty, and resources available at each college. Consider the location of the college and what type of campus environment you prefer .
Visit colleges: After you have narrowed down your list of potential colleges, make sure to visit each one. This will give you a chance to see the campus and get a feel for the atmosphere. You can also talk to current students, faculty, and staff to get a better understanding of what it is like to attend the college.
You May Like: What Do You Do In College
Which College Is Right For You
As youre weighing pros and cons, keep in mind that the sheer number of criteria an option meets is less important than the significance of those criteria.
A school that checks off a lot of little factors, like niche clubs on campus and close proximity to your favorite pizza joint, may still not be right for you if it misses the big factors, like regional accreditation. You might end up choosing a school that falls short on less important criteria but outshines all others with the curriculum and research opportunities in your field.
Choosing the right college is an art, not a science, and its subjective. Not everyone has to agree with your decision for it to be the right choice. And, if you ultimately decide that a school isnt the right choice, youre not stuck there permanently. Transferring schools is always an option. If this is the case, check out the transition support many colleges offer.
Campus Visits In Your College Search
Imagine buying a house. You would inevitably do research online. You might even take virtual tours of the homes that appeal to you. But before you sign on the dotted line, you will need to actually walk through the house yourself. You need to step inside to see if it feels like home. And if it’s worth the investment. Its similar with colleges.
In spite of the depth and breadth of college search tools you have at your disposal, they are no exceptions to visiting campus in person. So, after you have narrowed your college list to a manageable number, its time to think about visiting their campuses.
A successful college visit will give you a real sense of what your life might be like if you enrolled thereand whether it matches what you want. Often, youll know instinctively how you feel about a campus within moments of setting foot on the quad. If you hate it, note the things that really turn you off, so you know what to look for at the next school.
The best time to visit is typically when classes are in session, the college is alive with students, faculty are accessible, and the campus is buzzing with activity. Of course, for many students and their families, summer is a much more convenient time. That’s okay too. Maybe you can make some campus stops on your way to the beach, amusement park, or family reunion. A summer visit is better than no visit at all. Most schools will have special summer visit hours too.
Also Check: How To Join College Basketball
How To Choose A College
It isnt easy to figure out which one of the thousands of colleges all over the United States is the best option for you. College planning can be overwhelming! You want your college experience to be the best it can be. Community colleges, public colleges, and private schools can all offer a strong academic program.
Before you do a campus visit, our comprehensive guide can help prospective students identify which college is the right fit for them. Whether you are in your senior year or are just simply ready to become a college student, read on for tips and important details to consider.
Related Resource: Colleges With Full Ride Scholarships
Reflect On What You Want In A College
All these college search engines contain a wealth of information about schools across the country. But to make the most of them, you first need to reflect on what you want out of college.
To get started, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I want to stay close to home or go across the country?
- Would I prefer a rural, suburban or urban setting?
- Am I looking for a small, medium or big school?
- Do I care about the professor-to-student ratio?
- What am I looking for regarding majors, student organizations or sports teams?
Once youve figured out what you want in a college, use a college search engine to find schools that match your preferences. As you finalize your list, use these tips to compare colleges and select the one thats best for you.
Your Perfect College & Bright Future Is Waiting
One persons ideal college may be anothers worst nightmare. Leave comparison at the door and find the school that matches your values and best suits your needs.
At Bright Futures, we help students unlock their hidden potential and find the colleges where they will thrive. Ready to learn how we can propel your student to success? Contact us today!
Note: This post was originally published on June 23, 2015 and has been completely revamped for comprehensiveness.