Your College Search
Once you have a good idea about the type of school you want to go to, you should start looking at schools individually. All colleges have websites that offer information to prospective students. Here, you can learn about the campus, explore the school’s academics, and learn about application requirements and deadlines. Don’t just visit the admissions tab, take some time to explore information about campus clubs and organizations, study abroad options, academic resources and research opportunities — there’s a lot to discover about each and every college.
It is recommended that students apply to between four and seven colleges. It’s important to be realistic about your academic profile and how well it matches the school’s admitted student profiles. Acceptance rates and profiles are usually listed on college’s website. Your high school counselor can usually give you some additional insight as to whether a school may be a good fit.
Consider applying to…
- One or two “reach” schools
Schools that might be difficult to get into, but that you are really drawn to
- Two or three “match” schools
Schools that fit with your academic profile, financial aid need and social fit (size, culture, location). In other words, schools where, though acceptance is not guaranteed, you feel confident about your chances
- One of two “safety” schools
Schools that you are very confident you would get admitted into so you have something to fall back on
Applying to a variety of schools not only increases your chances of being accepted, but also opens up different financial aid options. All schools award financial aid differently, so the more schools you apply to, the more packages you’ll be able to choose from. There is a potential downside to applying to multiple colleges or universities: the costs or fees associated with submitting applications. Talk to your guidance counselor, as these fees can usually be waived if you have financial need.
Online resources for narrowing your search:
- College Navigator has information on academics, financial aid and graduation rates.
- The College Board’s “Big Future” website has college profiles and search tools.
- College Affordability and Transparency Center’s College Scorecard provides information on a college’s affordability, enrollment size, and programs and majors.
- Unigo offers student-generated reviews and guides about colleges.