Tips on Narrowing Your College List

Posted on September 21, 2010. Filed under: admissions advice, campus visits, college admissions, College Advice, college applications, college choice, college cost, college essays, college financial planning, college news, college prep, college resume, college search, extracurricular activities | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

By now perhaps you have completed lots of college research, conducted visits and have a college list that may be too long. Below is a list of things you should consider during your college search and criteria to review that will assist you in narrowing your list

Academic Programs: After you explore the various programs, focus on the ones of most interest. Look at faculty, course offerings, special events and opportunities. Communicate with existing students or graduates. Choose a program that is comfortable for you academically. A challenging curriculum is good but you want to make sure you have a healthy academic and social balance.

Class size, online courses and teachers: Larger universities often have great numbers in lecture courses plus various sections taught by teacher assistants (TA’s) who may be grading you. If you prefer smaller classes where professors are teaching, you may want to select a smaller college. Large and small colleges offer online courses. If you do this, you’ll have to discipline yourself and realize your interaction with others may be limited. Online courses can give a motivated student more flexibility.

The Campus: Know what types of facilities are important to you. Are state of the art computer labs a priority?  What about research opportunities, science labs or art studios? If you are a musician, what is the orchestra like and how good is the equipment? Be careful on websites or if visiting as colleges will market their schools and show you the best.  Ask lots of questions and explore. Focus on the amenities that really matter to you.

Types of Diversity: Colleges generally list information about their diverse populations on their websites.  This would include, ethnicity, geographic, religious, socio-economic, first generation and academic diversities. If these are important factors to you, do the homework and learn about the population at colleges

Paying for College: There are many ways to get money for college whether from the college itself, the government or private corporations. Colleges may offer scholarships where no application is offered.  You can check by contacting the financial aid office of the institution or calling them. Do not worry about the money prior to applying.  If you are interested in that college, do apply, as you may not know what money you can obtain until after you are admitted.

The Dorms: Learn about the housing at colleges.  How many years are you required to live on campus? What kind of facilities do the dorms have? Where are the dorms in relationship to classes?  Learn if housing at that college is guaranteed. Some colleges have specialized dorms that focus on culture, special needs or language. If the Greek system is important to you, check out fraternities and sororities.

Counseling & Health Services: It may be important for you to have backup should you incur any difficulties.  Is tutoring available? What if you are homesick or having difficulty adjusting? You should have counselors that can assist you. Health programs vary at colleges and the fee may be attached to your tuition.  You may need to be your own advocate at larger universities. Smaller colleges may have a more available support staff.

Retention Rate: A good question on visits or at college fairs is to ask what their retention rate is. What percentage of students who begin as freshmen graduate from that college?

Best of luck and get in touch with any additional questions:


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