How to Choose a College 👩‍🎓 Best Advice from Experts - EssaysRescue
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9 January, 2023

How to Decide What Colleges to Apply to?

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How to Decide What Colleges to Apply to?

Congratulations! You’ve just completed high school and are ready to carry on to the next phase of your life. You’re going to college! But before you do anything else, asking yourself some questions is important. Are there specific schools that interest you? How to choose a college major? How much money can you realistically afford to spend on tuition each year? How to choose between two colleges?

These are all important things to consider before deciding which college is right for you. To help get the process of building a college list started, we’ve compiled some great advice on how to choose which colleges to apply to from experts who have helped students make this huge decision before.

How to Choose a College?

The first step is determining what you’re looking for while picking colleges. Are you looking for a small liberal arts school with a low student-to-faculty ratio? Do you want to attend an urban university near the city’s heart, or would it be more appealing to have easy access to nature and outdoor recreation?

Do you have specific goals or interests? Is there anything besides an education that will help shape your long-term goals, such as learning about certain countries and cultures or participating in sports and other extracurricular activities with other students who share similar interests?

Consider how much control you want over your experience

Another factor to consider is how much control you want over your experience. The less control you have, the more likely you will need to compromise in some way. If this sounds like something you are willing to deal with, then a highly-ranked school isn’t for you.

On the other hand, if what greatly matters to you is having full control over your experience without compromising too much and being happy with the results of your decision (which should be the case), then a good rule of thumb when choosing any school would be: Go as far down on their list as possible!

Make sure your needs come first

First and foremost, you should make a list of the things you need and want from college. What are your goals? Do you want to make lots of friends or get internships that will help boost your resume for grad school applications?

Make sure your needs come first. You won’t be able to enjoy the experience if it doesn’t match up with what you’re looking for out of college.

Take initiative with your search

Finding a college doesn’t happen overnight, and it definitely shouldn’t be left up to chance. You need to take ownership of this phase of your education, especially if you want to find the right school.

A good place to begin is by making a list of colleges that seem like a good fit for you. But how to create a college list that works?

How to Make a College List: My College List Essentials

As we already mentioned, the first step in choosing a college is making a list of schools you’d like to consider. But how to build a college list that is helpful? This can be as simple as writing down the names of those institutions that have caught your attention, or you may want to organize them by location or type of program. Research each school’s website for important information like admission requirements and financial aid details, which will help you narrow down the list.

Once completed, your list should include at least ten colleges (up from six, according to recent research). Now comes the fun part: visiting campuses! Visit during fall and spring breaks, so there’s no excuse not to go! College visits are key for getting an idea about what it feels like on campus and whether or not this university would be a good fit for you personally.

What College Should I Go to? The Campus Visiting Stage

There are many reasons why visiting is helpful:

  • You can see what it’s like to be living on campus for four years.
  • You can meet current students and talk about their experiences at the school.
  • You can ask questions about academics, financial aid, student life, athletics, and more.
  • Complete applications thoughtfully and on time.

Visiting a college campus is the best way to get a feel for it. It’s a good idea to visit during the academic year when classes are in session so that you can get a sense of the campus culture and student life.

How to Narrow Down College List?

Now that you know what’s out there, it’s time to start narrowing down your options. At this stage in the game, it’s important to be thoughtful and ask questions at the heart of what matters most. Here are some top questions experts suggest asking when researching colleges:

  • What academic programs does this school offer?
  • How much is financial aid available?
  • How do I apply for it, and do I need any special documentation?
  • What kind of student life can they offer me if I attend their college or university (i.e., clubs, activities)?
  • Are there opportunities for me to explore my interests outside classwork?
  • What is the reputation of this school in my local community and beyond?
  • Do people who have attended this college enjoy their experience there? Are they happy with their choice now that they’ve graduated from it?

We’ve helped you feel more confident about your college search. Remember: the first step is figuring out what you want and need in a school, then narrowing down your options to the schools that will best meet those needs. Next, get on-campus visits and talk to students who attend each of your top schools. Then apply early so that your application can be complete by the time important deadlines approach — and don’t forget about financial aid! Finally, please plan for visits with counselors and admissions officers who can help answer specific questions about admission requirements or other concerns as they arise during this exciting time. Good luck!

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