How To Start Choosing The Right College
Sometimes the hardest part of finding the perfect college for many students is getting started especially if you do not have a particular college in mind. The complicated and lengthy process of undertaking your college search can seem overwhelming. You want your college experience to be the best it can be!
Start by breaking down the process into smaller goals and steps. Instead of trying to make the decision all at once, work backward from the goal of having a shortlist of colleges to apply to. Splitting up the college search process into small, achievable stepslike researching schools that offer your major or scheduling tours of college campusescan make it less intimidating. Other factors, do you want a big school or a small school?
Why Should I Take The College Match Quiz
Taking the College Match Quiz may help you find the perfect college for you. Many high school students wonder, which college should I go to? or where should I go to college? If this sounds familiar, the college match quiz offers a way to find out.
There are over 8,000 colleges, universities and trade schools in the US. Choosing one may take lots of time and energy. The good news is the college quiz filters schools for you. It also suggests potential colleges to apply to based on your input. Not only does this take some of the stress away, it may also save you money.
Finding your perfect college may help you to graduate and thrive too. Many people lose interest when the college doesnt end up suiting their style. Studies by the NCES show that only 6 out of 10 students in public colleges graduate. And, most take up to six years to earn a bachelors degree.
Dont worry, there are no right or wrong answers! But the success of the quiz relies on your honesty.
Here are 6 helpful things to consider before taking the quiz.
Make A List Of Your Preferences
Start by thinking about college qualities: size, variety of academic programs, campus environment, athletics, proximity to home, student body diversity, religious affiliation, costs, etc. This may take ample self-reflection, but once your list is complete, youll be ready to move on to the next step of your college search journey.
Unless you’re strongly interested in a specific major, dont let an academic program be the first quality you seekyou can always change your major later on. Instead, think about the character of a college: Are you looking for a larger research-oriented institution, or would you prefer a smaller liberal arts college? Are you interested in a rural or urban environment? Does a colleges affiliation with Catholicism appeal to you, or do you want an independent college? With thousands of schools at your fingertips, it’s important that you know the answers to a few of these questions, so you dont get pulled in too many different directions.
If youve grown up in a small village or town, you may want to escape to a college in a major city. Or perhaps you want to break away from the hustle and bustle and attend college in a rural setting. Maybe you want to go far away, or you might want to live at home and commute. Whatever your preferences, make sure you make them part of your college search process!
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If You Answered Evenly Between The Two
You should go to a large state school You should go to a large state school like UCLA, University of North Carolina, Penn State, or Michigan State. These established universities are usually set in large “college towns” with lots of activities and opportunities for students. Because these schools are so large, you’ll find the most options here, from classes, to sports, to clubs. Since state schools are publicly funded and often more affordable, they also tend to be super competitive, so try to apply early decision if there’s one you’ve got your heart set on.
What Is The Four
The four-year graduation rate is an indicator of the motivation of the student body at a potential college or university. You want to make sure the student body reflects your hard work and drive! You become like the people you surround yourself with, so choose a college full of focused, engaged, and motivated students.
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Whats Next After Finding Your College Match
Now that you have your list of college matches, there are a few next steps. After all, college is a big investment of time and money. The first step is to do your own research. Look up student reviews and see if you like what they are saying about the school.
While you are online, you could also take a virtual tour of the college. It can save you a trip and gives you an idea of the campus, services and vibe from afar. Keep in mind, gaining admission to any specific school is not guaranteed. This means you should apply to a few schools. You may improve your odds of admission in a school youre interested in.
Some of these can be safety schools, where you think you have a good chance of getting in. Others can be target or dream colleges. Many college students also find that submitting the Common App makes it easier to apply to multiple schools.
Fill out the FAFSA to know how much federal aid you qualify for. If you get into multiple schools, you compare each ones financial aid packages. Many eligible middle and low income students use financial aid awards to offset the cost of college.
Schools may also offer different scholarships based on either merit or financial need. Depending on what a school offers you, a more expensive school on your list may become more affordable. In some schools they may automatically consider you for their merit scholarships.
Do What’s Best For You
1.Rushing the process.
2.Being a follower.
3.The legacy lure.
5.Youre a die-hard fan.
6.The temptation to party.
7.How a student body looks.
8.Assuming the worst.
9.Location, location, location.
10.Cost obsessions or carelessness.
12.Relying on reputation.
14.Having a one-track mind.
15.The college specializes in your current major.
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What Do You Like
The first thing to consider when picking a major is what you like to do. By the time you graduate high school youll have enough information and experience from your classes to figure out what you might or might not be interested in pursuing. Here are some ways you can dig deeper:
- List 10 things you love. Listing what you love doing, both inside or outside the classroom, is a great way to see possible paths you can take. If you enjoy art and drawing but youre also interested in technology, consider majoring in graphic design. If youre into business and traveling, investigate majoring in international business.
- Make a list of strengths and weaknesses. Figuring out your strengths and weaknesses can help you assess what kind of major to go into. For example, if public speaking isnt really your thing, you might want to avoid majors that could lead to careers like being a news anchor or spokesperson. You can also take your weaknesses and build on them in college. If public speaking is something you want to improve, go ahead and take a speech class. You might love it!
- Use the Roadmap to Careers Connect your interests to majors and careers, and explore video interviews with professionals in different industries to hear how they got where they are today. Use your College Board login to map your futureits free for students who take the PSAT 8/9, PSAT 10, PSAT/NMSQT, or the SAT.
Check Out The Job Connections
Now that you have begun to narrow down a list of prospective colleges, dig deeper into how each of the schools on your list would help you achieve your personal and professional goals. College students often dont think about job connections until theyre getting ready to graduate, but this may be a mistake.
Focusing on career resources now can put you in a better position to benefit from the career services any school offers, including on-campus or online career centers, job fairs, and other recruitment activities offered at a school.
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Ask Yourself Some Questions About Academics:
- What is your learning style?
- Do you prefer listening to lectures or participating in discussions?
- Are you interested in doing research, analysis, or hands-on work?
- Do you prefer to work alone or with a small group?
- Will you want to study abroad?
- Do you prefer taking on-campus and online courses?
- What kinds of support or resources do you need for academic success?
- Do you already have some schools in mind?
Your answers to these questions will guide your research of colleges and what they offer. Look for schools that offer academic programs and resources that address your needs, challenge you, and keep you engaged. You can also call the college and talk to an admissions recruiter to learn more.
Athletics And Other Extracurriculars
A lot of your time in college will be spent in activities outside the classroomas it should be!
College extracurriculars span virtually every interest you can imagine, from academic clubs to cultural groups to theater troupes to intramural sports. Campus clubs can also help you figure out what major is right for you or if youre on the right career track. And they can help you develop all kinds of useful skills, from teamwork to creative problem solving .
If youre serious about sports, athletics can also add a whole new dimension to your college search too. Student-athletes should start by realistically assessing their abilities and considering which schools are most likely to give them a team jersey. Talk to the coaches at your high school and at the colleges youre interested in and ask them to evaluate your chances of being formally recruited for your sport.
Questions to ask:
- Does the college offer what Im looking for when Im not in class?
- What kinds of extracurricular opportunities exist on campus in art, music, theater, community service, athletics, etc.?
- How many students participate in extracurriculars?
- Are there clubs or pre-professional associations related to my major or intended career?
- Can students start their own clubs? How easy is it to do?
- What is the athletic recruitment process like?
- What athletic conference and division is the school?
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Take Your Time To Find The Right College For You
During your junior and senior years of high school, youll start narrowing down your choices for colleges. To help you decide, you may want to attend a college fair. These events allow you to talk with college representatives and get answers to your questions. You can also take a campus tour of colleges youre interested in attending.
At USF, our students are our main priority, and were dedicated to student success on all levelsacademically, culturally, and financially. Learn more about what USF can offer you by As always, our admissions advisors are standing by to answer your college admissions questions. Contact us online or give us a call at 813-974-3350.
Phoebe Brown is the former SEO Strategist for USFs Office of Innovative Education. She enjoys writing blog articles about all aspects of the college admissions process, so students, parents, and counselors find the information they need when they need it most.
Talk To Current Students
I always ask current students at a college, If you could change one thing about this school, what would you change? If they tell you its the quality of the ground beef, thats one thing. But, if they tell you that they cant get into the classes they need, wont graduate on time, or find it difficult gaining access to their professors, you might feel differently.
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Do You Know How To Improve Your Profile For College Applications
See how your profile ranks among thousands of other students using CollegeVine. Calculate your chances at your dream schools and learn what areas you need to improve right now it only takes 3 minutes and it’s 100% free.
When you hear people say, best colleges, best is a code word for hardest to get accepted to. Rest assured, there are no absolute best schools. The right college for you is not the right college for someone else and visa-versa. With any list of schoolseven of the most competitive institutionsthere are ones that suit your learning profile, academic interests, needs, and aspirations better than others!
How To Make Your College List
Okay. You have worked your tuchus off and used all of the college search criteria in this guide to find schools that meet all or most of your needs. First, high five! Second, its time to come up with a list of five to 15 colleges that seem like a good fit for you. If you have far more options than that, keep digging with your research to eliminate choices that dont feel right or dont check off all your boxes. Otherwise, this is the time when your college search spreadsheet becomes your best friend, hero, and favorite thing ever.
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Everyone Has Different Needs
We cannot all use a similar ranking system because we do not have a similar set of priorities. For some students, a politically active environment is key. Others may want a Holocaust teaching and research center while still another may want Division III intercollegiate water polo. Ive had many students who place a high priority on the feel and warmth of a campus. Others want the spirited environment of a large sports powerhouse. Your priorities are not right or wrong. Your challenge is to know what you want , and to proudly pursue it. Be proud of who you are and what you have the potential to become. Find the place that you believe will best let you do this and enjoy it.
What Makes A College Right For You Anyway
First things first: there is almost certainly more than one right college for you. Some might be reach schools, some might be safeties. In any case, when youre searching for colleges, try to remember what college should be. It’s a place where:
- You’re comfortable being yourselfbut also challenged to be better.
- You find people to talk with late into the nightwhether its because you totally agree with each other or youre debating something you care about.
- You have opportunities to study things that fascinate you, play the sports you want to play, work at internships that help clarify your career plans, and join the clubs you want to joinand you are expected to take advantage of those opportunities, because they wont just fall in your lap.
- You learn how to learn, communicate well, and solve problemsskills all employers want to see, no matter what industry.
- And you can get this kind of education without breaking the bank and taking on crazy amounts of student debt.
Speaking of college costs, heres the dirty little secret: because there are so many schools out there and a variety of financial aid to be had, you can almost always find a college that meets your needs and your budget.
Even if you’ve dreamed of going to a certain college your whole life, not checking out your other options is a mistake. Finding your perfect college match takes time and effort, but it’s worth it in the end.
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Attend College Fairs And Visit Campuses
After you narrow your list down a little bit more, you should attend a college fair in your area. These may be held at convention centers or right in your high school. Ask your high school counselor for a list of college fairs nearby. When attending, keep an open mind and come prepared. This is your opportunity to seek out colleges youre interested in and ask specific questions relating to your interests. Again, youll get a stronger sense of those colleges for which you want to take the next stepthe campus visit.
If at all possible, you must try to visit each college youre considering. Many schools appear great online, but youll only get the true feel of a campus when you see it up close and personal. Many times, youll have a gut feeling as soon as you step on campus. Do as much as possible during your visit: meet with a professor in a major that interests you, attend a class, eat lunch in the dining hall , and, of course, take a guided tour. Remember to ask a lot of questions and take photos! On your way home, take notes of all of the pros and cons of your visit. These notes will help you prepare for your next college visit and serve as a reminder when youre deliberating later.