As you move closer to college application season, you will quickly see that—between the monetary cost to apply and the amount of time that each application requires—you only want to apply to five to eight colleges. So how do you determine which colleges should be on your list?
- Find an academic fit. Ensure that you will be qualified for all of the schools on your short list by the time you apply by researching the minimum test scores and grade averages that the school requires.
- Look inward and ask yourself, “What matters most to me in a college experience?” What kind of academic program are you seeking? Are you looking to stay close to home or venture out? Are you planning to pursue college-level athletics or other extracurricular interests?
- Take a virtual tour of the college or university early on and browse through campus websites. Each school has a personality and culture beyond its statistics. The virtual tour may help you get a better idea of the school culture and spark your interest even more.
- Think about your major and how that school can help – but be open minded in case you change your focus. It is always a good idea to select a school that covers your primary and secondary interests well. This way, if you change your major, it won’t necessarily mean changing your school as well.
- Consider school size because it plays a huge role in campus culture, resources, student life and instruction. Whether they seem like benefits or detriments to you, a school’s size informs how easy it is to walk between classes, get to know your professors, be active in the student body and a number of other factors.
- Visit small, medium and large campuses to figure out what size fits you best. Trying out a number of different-sized schools will give you a better sense of comparison, and help you determine what makes you feel most comfortable.
- Think about how far away you want to be from home, and if you prefer an urban or rural college setting. Make sure that the school’s environment allows you to do your best work.
- Look for a college that makes you excited about your future. Colleges typically have more strenuous coursework than you’ve had in high school, but a college that fits you well can make it seem like the course load isn’t so heavy.
- Explore financial aid opportunities. Start looking into scholarships now, check out the grants and work-study opportunities that are available at each of your schools.