Finding the BEST School
You should begin your college search with this question: What is the ideal college for me? Which colleges and/or universities offer the courses of study, campus size, geographical location, extra-curricular activities, quality of faculty and political atmosphere that I want or need in a school? Ideally, your final college choice should meet, or even exceed, all of your desired criteria.
Don’t fall into the trap of selecting your college for the wrong reasons – where your friends are going, where Mom or Dad went, or where you think you can afford. Choosing the wrong school will result in lost time and money in the long run.
Keep these two strategies in mind during your college search and selection process:
1. Shop for exactly what you are looking for in a college. You will likely spend four to five years there so you want to find the "perfect" match.
2. Keep your college selection options open. Do not begin with prejudices in mind about any type of school, not even the most expensive private schools!
The college search and selection process is best divided into the following three specific steps:
1. Compile your original list of colleges that interest you based on specific criteria (majors offered, size, location, etc.). Your original list of schools should include 20 to 30 potential schools that meet most (or all) of your general selection criteria.
2. Narrow your list of possible colleges to between eight and ten by doing further research into the original list of institutions you selected. At this point you will be able to eliminate institutions from your original list based on more specific criteria.
3. Finally, cut your list to six (6) finalists. You will be able to do more extensive research on this smaller list of finalists. Your final six colleges are the ones to which you will actually apply for admission. Important Tip – You should go and visit the campuses of all six of your finalists to determine if their environments are suitable to your particular needs. You will then be able to arrange your six finalists in order of preference. You should have four top choices listed in order, along with a safety school (where you are practically guaranteed admission) and a long shot school (an institution where your qualifications may secure you enrollment, but you are not sure).