So many schools! So many choices! Take it step by step to find the right college for you.
Step 1: Develop your ideal college profile
You can't find your perfect college until you figure out what you want. Start by breaking it down. Make a list of the characteristics you want in a college. Think about:
- Size: Large schools can offer diversity, while small schools are more intimate.
- Location: Close to home or halfway across the country? Urban or rural?
- Academic Standing: Do the school's academic standards match your goals? Sometimes a big name school is not the best option.
- Social Environment: What kind of community do you want? Close-knit and slow-paced? Studious and focused?
- Living Arrangements: Dorm life is fun, but commuting can be more affordable.
- Field of Study: Does the school offer a good program in the major you plan to pursue?
- Classroom Environment: Small, intimate classes? Or big lectures?
- Affordability: Tuition, room and board, books and supplies—it all adds up. What's your college budget?
- Availability of financial aid: Are you going to need assistance?
- Selectivity: How do you measure up to the school's incoming freshman class (average GPA, test scores, etc.)? What are your chances for admission?
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Use this list to develop your "college profile"—a description of your ideal college.
Step 2: Finding your match
Now it's time to research your options. Learn more about the colleges that are out there and compare them against your "ideal" college.
- Consult your guidance counselor. Ask for college information such as brochures and guidebooks.
- Attend a college fair. Bring a notepad and talk one-on-one with school representatives. To find out about college fairs in your area, ask your counselor or visit the College Fair Directory.
- Surf the Internet. Learn more about your favorite schools by visiting their Web sites. Check out Fastweb's college search to discover your college matches.
Step 3: Focus in and get more info.
Once you've narrowed your list, go after more in-depth information.
- Ask for advice. Discuss your options with parents, friends and your high school counselor. No one will have the "right" answer, but they can give you a fresh perspective.
- Ask your friends in college.They can tell you about day-to-day college life. Learn from their mistakes and benefit from their experiences.
- Visit the campus. Call the college directly to schedule a college tour, or ask your guidance counselor if your school arranges group trips. Take notes during the tour and get the student view by spending some time wandering around and talking to current students.
Find your college match and you'll be ready to make the right decision when the time comes!