How Do I Search For The College Right For Me?

<p>Hi everyone, unfotunately, I will not be able to tour any of the coolleges I am interested in. The advice that most people have given me is tocheck out the websites of the various colleges. So, I did that, but the webiste has a LOT of information. So, my question to you guys, is what should I focus on? Sorry if it sounds vague, but if you guys have any other advice, please let me know! Thanks!</p>

<p>I basically searched the top colleges in my major. I went off of that list and then looked at factors of distance away from home, athletics, location of the college (urban or rural), cost, and etc... The most important thing is academics, I believe, so no matter what look for the best college in your major that you have shot at getting accepted. Hope that helps a little</p>

<p>What ballmaster said.</p>

<p>Also, find out what you can afford. Talk to your parents about money (loads of fun for everyone!) - how much do the schools cost, how much can your parents afford, how much does the FAFSA 4Caster think your family should pay, etc. If your EFC (Expected Family Contribution) is $30,000 a year but your family can only pay $10,000, you're going to have to look for inexpensive schools or for schools with merit money. Don't plan on graduating with $100K in debt - there are hundreds of threads that say why.</p>

<p>It's often hard to find (or afford) the "best" college in your major, so you can start with the college pickers on this site and college board once you figure out what is important in a college. Then you can research your major withing that subset of colleges that meets the requirements.</p>

<p>Good luck!</p>

<p>
[quote]
It's often hard to find (or afford) the "best" college in your major, so you can start with the college pickers on this site and college board once you figure out what is important in a college. Then you can research your major withing that subset of colleges that meets the requirements.

[/quote]

This. Start by figuring out what you want in a college and draw up a list of about 30 or so colleges based on those criteria. You can narrow down based on your major after that. The exception to this is interest in a major that's not commonly offered (e.g. architecture), in which case it might make more sense to start with a list of available programs and narrow down based on fit. </p>

<p>I agree that search engines are a good place to start. From playing around with it, the one on CC is pretty accurate. College Board and IPEDS also have decent search engines. </p>

<p>College</a> Search - College Confidential
College</a> Search - Find colleges and universities by major, location, type, more.
College</a> Navigator - National Center for Education Statistics</p>

<p>Books can be good sources of information about various colleges. I particularly recommend the Fiske Guide to Colleges and The Insider's Guide to the Colleges. Your public library should have copies.</p>

<p>Unfortunately, a college that looks good on paper may not always be appealing in person. It is important to draw on as many sources of information as possible. Try some of the following:
[ul][<em>]Ask to be put in touch with local alums
[</em>]Join the mailing list and request info
[<em>]Attend local information sessions
[</em>]Search online for videos (college-produced videos, independent ones like TheU, etc.)
[<em>]Read student newspapers
[</em>]Browse the facebook groups or websites of departments and/or clubs at colleges you're interested in
[*]Ask for input from current students here on CC or elsewhere[/ul]</p>

<p>Because there are so many schools (thousands of them), it can be hard just to reach that initial cut down to 30 or 50 or so. It's easier if you have one or two specific criteria (such as "in state", "Catholic", or "under 2000 students") to plug into a search engine. If you don't, then one way to build an initial cut list is to identify the most popular colleges for recent graduates of your own high school. Ask your Guidance Counsellor where students with grades and scores like yours, in the last few graduating classes, have been admitted. Talk to him/her, and to other people in your community, about the pros and cons of those schools.</p>

<p>If you don't want local preferences to drive your choices, then you can use the US News rankings to build an initial list. Within the category you prefer ("National Universities", "National Liberal Arts Colleges"), build a list of about 50 schools (ranked N through N-50 or more) that fall within your reach-match range. Research them thoroughly. As you do so, try to identify the features that make some more attractive to you than others (cost, size, location, climate, etc.) Visit a few local colleges to get a clearer idea of what's really important to you.</p>

<p>Once you're confident you know what you want, you can toss out the rankings. Look for schools (more or less regardless of rank) that meet those criteria (e.g., "small northeastern liberal arts colleges" or "state flagships with strong engineering programs in a place where it rarely snows"). Build a complete reach-match-safety list of about 10 - 15 colleges. Make sure at least one is a true admission & financial safety. Then apply to as many of those as you think you can manage.</p>

<p>I think one of the major problems is that you don't know what you don't know. If you can't tour the colleges you think you're interested in, tour the ones available. Take advantage of every open house program possible. Whenever you do travel, see if you can schedule a campus tour. Even if you aren't interested in attending you can start to figure out what's important to you so that you can use it to identify other colleges.</p>

<p>I'll start off by saying that the notion there is "a college right for me" in itself is enough to set you off down the wrong path. I don't think there is a single college that is right but a basket of colleges that are a match for your interests, finances, etc. Some may have more of something and less of something else, there may even be a clear choice that stands above the others, but overall you need to develop a set of colleges that you'd be happy to attend.
[quote]
I will not be able to tour any of the coolleges I am interested in.

[/quote]
Start by visiting colleges of various types that are near you. Large U, small LAC. In an urban area, in a rural area. Etc. You may already have notions of what you like, but many students find out just thru visiting various types (seeing sample classes, talking to students, and so on) that they did not fully understand the differences and how they'd react to them.</p>

<p>Once you understand the type(s) that would be a fit for you, there are some excellent suggestions above. One other thing, assuming you're a HS junior beginning to look at colleges, is to contact the admissions dept of colleges you are interested in and ask if they could put you in touch with recent grads who live in your area or current students who will be home during the summer so you can talk with then about their college.</p>

<p>My daughter didn't get to tour schools except two before acceptance. She didn't go to either of those, so it wasn't a big factor. We did use the Fiske guide and she was fortunate that many admissions officers came to give talks at her school so she sat in whenever possible.</p>

<p>I decided to use something along the lines of this. 1 being most important.</p>

<ol>
<li>Academics</li>
<li>Cost</li>
<li>Interests</li>
<li>Sports</li>
<li>College Life</li>
<li>Rooms and little things.</li>
</ol>

<p>If cost is a major factor, then usually one needs a strategy that focuses on either (a) low sticker price, or (b) good merit aid, or (c) good need-based aid. Most schools are not equally good in each category. </p>

<p>For example, the most selective private universities usually have excellent need-based aid for those who qualify, but (with a few exceptions) don't offer merit aid. Public universities generally offer relatively low sticker prices to in-state students, but little financial aid to out of state students (unless, in some cases, you satisfy specific criteria such as National Merit test scores). The best merit aid discounts seem to be offered by private schools that are just below the most selective, highest-ranked schools (or, again, by some state universities if you satisfy specific criteria).</p>

<p>Many students can and should be ruling out broad categories of schools based on cost (after likely aid) alone.</p>