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Before you ask which colleges to apply to, please consider...

ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 62,186 Senior Member
edited March 2014 in College Search & Selection
Before you ask which colleges to apply to, please consider the following:

1. Know your cost constraints. Talk to your parents and get an idea of what they are willing to contribute to your college costs. Find the net price calculators on some colleges' web sites and try them to get an idea of financial aid estimates to see if those colleges are realistic on just need-based financial aid (if not, you would need merit scholarships to attend those colleges). Note that your state of residency matters for public schools, so please indicate that. Financial aid for out-of-state students at public schools is usually minimal to nonexistent. Avoid making assumptions about cost and financial aid for any given college or class of colleges (e.g. public, private) without checking specifically for your situation. Finally, stating that you "need financial aid" does not allow others to help you as much as stating that your "parents' contribution cannot be more than $____" (specify per year or over the entire bachelor's degree).

2. If you have any intended college majors or other academic or professional goals (pre-med, pre-law, pre-PhD, type of work desired after graduation, etc.), please state them, because the appropriateness of some colleges (particularly smaller ones) may depend on them. If you are undecided, please state that (and indicate what range of subjects you are undecided between). Be aware that more obscure majors may limit your choices.

3. If you have any non-academic preferences (region, size, weather, urban/suburban/rural, things to do on campus or in the area, social scene, political scene, fraternities/sororities, religious environment, etc.), please state them. Be aware that being too picky on these preferences can eliminate many otherwise good fit colleges for you (you may want to indicate which preferences are strong preferences and which are weak or tie-breaker preferences).

4. Weighted GPA provided by your high school is typically meaningless to everyone else here, and to colleges that you are applying to. The only exception is if it is weighted using the standards of a college you are applying to. However, it is still meaningless for other colleges. If you want people to make suggestions based on your GPA, please give your unweighted GPA plus some context, such as the types of courses you have been taking.

5. Your test scores typically matter, so indicating your SAT and/or ACT scores, and whether you may have National Merit status, can help others help you find colleges and scholarships.
Post edited by Chedva on
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Replies to: Before you ask which colleges to apply to, please consider...

  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 Registered User Posts: 31,083 Senior Member
    ^ I second the request for this being a sticky thread. Should be compulsory reading for most posters here. :)
  • jkeil911jkeil911 Registered User Posts: 6,009 Senior Member
    I'm happy to provide a third, and thank you, ucbalumnus.
  • CollegiateDreamsCollegiateDreams Registered User Posts: 980 Member
    Thank you for the helpful and informative thread! These are some very important factors that should definitely be considered before posting.
  • SurvivorFanSurvivorFan Registered User Posts: 757 Member
    I would say that the weighted GPA is significant, as it shows whether you have challenged yourself or not, but you could just explain that.
  • Momom77Momom77 Registered User Posts: 280 Junior Member
    Great idea!
  • BeanTownGirlBeanTownGirl Registered User Posts: 2,731 Senior Member
    I wish there were a way to force everyone looking for recommendations to fill out a form that required all that data in a standard format! That would be cool :)
  • BeStillMyHeartBeStillMyHeart Registered User Posts: 116 Junior Member
    I agree with OP, but what safety schools should teens, like me, should be looking at if your EFC is 0? My mother probably can only pay 2k a year max. I probably can get some sort of part time job too.
  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 Registered User Posts: 31,083 Senior Member
    @BeStillMyHeart: open a new thread. We'll answer, I promise. :)
  • BeStillMyHeartBeStillMyHeart Registered User Posts: 116 Junior Member
    @myos1634 I was going to do that after I take the ACT and get my scores back. So I know exactly what schools I should be looking at. But I guess I can ask a general question. I don't know what to say though.
  • stressedoutttstressedouttt Registered User Posts: 4,111 Senior Member
    DItto on making this a sticky thread.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 62,186 Senior Member
    I would say that the weighted GPA is significant, as it shows whether you have challenged yourself or not, but you could just explain that.

    That can only be useful if the weighting method is known, and the unweighted GPA is also given. Since each high school seems to have its own weighting method, specifying only weighted GPA gives insufficient information to others. A 4.3 weighted GPA might have a 4.0 unweighted GPA behind it, or a 2.8 unweighted GPA behind it, depending on the high school's weighting method (yes, there are high schools whose weighting methods can produce weighted GPAs of 6.something).
  • juilletjuillet Super Moderator Posts: 11,498 Super Moderator
    This is a great thread, also fourth-ing that request for a sticky!
  • MaggpieMaggpie Registered User Posts: 225 Junior Member
    More useful is unweighted, with a count of how many AP's you took.
    And, absolutely, you must do the NPC on every school's website. Just because you get in, does not mean you can afford to go there. I wish kids and college counselors would stop focusing on the hardest reach school, and look at solid Matches that will give you Merit scholarships. Many college counselors don't even want to talk about the money part. It can be a difficult and devastating process to families and students who don't go in with eyes open!

    I just did EFC's at 7 or 8 schools for my son who's a junior. Almost all schools came back with a net price between $25 and $30,000. The most expensive was a big public school flagship - a big $0 in merits or grants. Our net cost would be $42,000. Good to know, we won't bother to apply. Too bad, they're missing lots of good students to the privates, which many people assume are too expensive.
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