2013-06-06 / Features

Helpful Hints When Choosing A College

High school seniors may be preparing for prom or getting ready to receive their diplomas, but high school juniors may be spending their time investigating various colleges.

During the spring of their junior year, many high school students study for and take the Scholastic Achievement Test, or SATs. Test scores and applications factor heavily into where a student will go to college, but students must also find a school where they feel comfortable.

Choosing the right college can help a person start off on the right foot. Here are some helpful hints for students when researching colleges.

 Brand-name schools aren’t the be-all, end-all. While the well- known schools, particularly the Ivy League universities, may garner a lot of attention, there are many other lesserknown schools that will provide a quality education.

 Think about school size. Students who thrive regardless of class size may not have to worry as much about the size of a school. Those who like an intimate setting and more one-on-one interaction may want to gear their searches to schools that have a smaller population.

 Factor in costs. Part of the decision-making process will involve the costs of going to school. A private university will likely be more expensive than a public institution. Although some students deter paying for college by taking out loans, keeping the bigger picture in mind — especially the loan payments that will await students upon graduation — can help steer school choices.

 Be honest with yourself. Students should be honest when assessing their academic history and abilities. Some schools have very stringent acceptance policies and will only accept students who fit a certain academic profile. If a grade point average or SAT score falls significantly below a school’s requirement, applying to that school and paying the application fee might not be in a student’s best interest.

 Seek out personal referrals. Students can reach out to alumna of certain schools and get their perspective on a given school. They can then schedule tours at some of the schools that seem the best fits and judge for themselves if the school are right for them.

 Think about personal and academic interests. Some school decisions are made simply by the programs offered. For a student who has a very specific degree in mind, there may be a limited number of schools that specialize in that course of study. However, a liberal arts major can select among a much greater number of options. Also, students should think beyond academics to the athletics or after class activities offered.

 Consider a school’s proximity to home. Some students want to be close to home, and others want to be as far away as possible. If getting away from home to broaden your horizons is important, then keep in mind the cost of travel on holidays and during breaks.

While high school seniors are busy choosing prom dates and graduation wardrobes, high school juniors are generally on the hunt for colleges. Scheduling tours and visiting national college fairs can help students narrow down their choices.

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