How To Find The College That's Right For You
All people to feel like they belong. In high school it’s easy; you know exactly where you belong. You belong in one corner of the cafeteria, one section of bleachers at the football games, one part of the dimly lit maze of hallways. Of course you are free to flit around like the social butterfly you are, but you know where it is that you fit comfortably and choose to spend most of your time. But now there is college. Whether it is 7 miles away or 700, you will have to figure out where you belong all over again. But before you do that, you first have to figure out what school you belong in. There are so many choices: big campus, small campus; active student body, not-so-active student body; urban, rural. Where to begin?
Our best advice is to apply to as many schools as you would like and can afford–sometimes those application fees start piling up. Nowhere does it say that you have to apply to X number of schools just make sure you get in to at least one. We also recommend research. Plenty of research. Here are some suggestions to get you started.
First, decide what you’re looking for in a college. Some things to consider are:
- Student body size
- Department size
- Strength of the program in your major of choice
- On and off campus activities
When you know what you are looking for in a school, create a list of schools that fit your criteria. As you develop your list, include some schools where you know you’ll be accepted (safety schools) as well as some schools where you are not likely to be accepted (reach schools).
How do I know if a school on my list is an “attainable” school? You’ll know because it will be a school where your GPA and standardized test scores (SATs or ACTs) are on par with the GPAs and test scores for the average applicant to the school. You can use the CollegeBoard’s College MatchMaker to see how you compare to students who applied, were accepted, and attended school there in previous years.
How do I know if a school on my list is a “safety” school?
You’ll know because it will be a school where your stats are higher than 75% of the GPA’s and CollegeBoard scores for the average applicant to the school. Check out the CollegeBoard to compare.
How do I know if a school on my list is a “reach” school?
You’ll know because it will be a school where your stats are lower than 75% of the those of the average applicant to the school. Again, the CollegeBoard makes it easy to compare yourself with average students. Although you are unlikely to be accepted into a reach school, acceptance may still be a possibility—don’t apply to a school where there is no likelihood you’ll be accepted.
Research is meant to calm your nerves. Relax as you ask yourself questions about what your are looking for in a school. Remember to answer truthfully. You’ll be fine. Chances are you’ll get into at least one school you’ll love.