Monday, January 9, 2017

Find Your Best Fit Colleges: Research, Research, Research!

With over 3,000 colleges and universities in the U.S. alone, students today have an almost overwhelming number of higher education choices to consider. When you first begin thinking about which schools might be good matches for your needs and goals, the possibilities might seem overwhelming. But if you develop a plan before you launch your research, you can minimize stress and keep your college search sane.

It's easier than ever to access information about colleges. Official websites, guidebooks, and online college resources like College NavigatorUnigo and Cappex offer many ways to learn about potential schools and explore whether they might be good fits for you.

If you have a list of things your future college must (or must not) have, such as a particular major or extracurricular, location or size) it can facilitate your search to use a search engine that will narrow down possibilities based on your criteria. The old standby, CollegeBoard, can be a good place to start.

Once you have this initial list, however, and you've narrowed it down to around 15 schools, your research should be anything but quick. It takes time and effort to learn about what a college has to offer, and even more time to reflect and assess thoroughly whether it is a place where you will thrive. As with most aspects of the college admissions process, be prepared for this step to take time--a LOT of time. Don't cut corners here, and you'll likely end up saving yourself time later on.

Your goal is to find 8-10 schools that will make your final applications list; 3 safety schools, 3-4 target schools, and 2-3 dream schools is a good mix. If possible, try to visit these campuses when school is in session to sit in on classes, check out the dorms and dining hall, and experience the unique atmosphere of each.

Be open-minded and thorough in your college search and take full advantage of the available resources in your research. It will pay off when you discover the college of your dreams.

Need suggestions about what to look for as you research? Check out these guidelines

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