If you are a college-bound student (or their parent) trying to find the “perfect” school — relax! There are many great resources and tools to help you find “right fit” colleges and universities where you’ll be comfortable, challenged and successful.
If you haven’t done so already, and you think you could benefit from improved clarity in terms of college and career goals, then check out MyRoad offered by The College Board. MyRoad is extremely helpful for finding direction, articulating your interests, identifying “right fit” colleges and majors as well as building confidence and a sense of purpose. (Link to Finding Direction from Planning section)
Given today’s competitive admissions climate, experts suggest 10 to 20 “right fit” colleges (25% – reach, 50% – match, 25% – safety) based on your academic record and other factors. Junior year is a great time to begin researching schools of potential interest and to compile an initial list. Learn more about this approach and how to find and select reach, match and safety schools.
College should be an environment where you feel comfortable and can succeed both academically and socially. Learn more about these four key areas to focus on when checking out colleges and assessing your fit.
- Academic – Programs & Majors; Academic Rigor; Work Load; Class Size, Intensity, Prestige, Reputation
- Physical – Location, Size, Proximity, Campus
- Social – Personal Fit, Student Life
- Affordability – True cost
Modern technology has made searching for colleges easier than ever. The Internet is a tremendous resource featuring college search engines, admissions blogs, and college and university web sites along with a variety of destinations focused on relevant topics such as: admissions, school rankings, college planning, scholarships and financial aid. Together with traditional resources such as guidebooks, brochures, rankings, college fairs, campus visits and personal recommendations, you can use online sources to find colleges and universities that are right for you. Learn about how to advance your college search using the Internet and off-line sources.
College brochures are filled with beautiful photographs and useful information. But remember, they are marketing pieces, designed to present the school in its most favorable light.
Looking for college information guidebooks? Check out some of our favorites.
The Internet is an amazing way to research colleges. A detailed search can be fast, easy and efficient. Some of the popular web resources with college search engine tools are: College Board Web Site, College Answer (Sallie Mae), College 411 — Making Your College Match , College Navigator (U.S. Dept. of Education) , CollegeView, Peterson’s Educational Planner, Google’s University Search and College Prowler. Learn more and link to these and other helpful sites by checking out the InlikeMe Web Links — College Search Engines and our commentary: Searching for Colleges on the Internet – Tips and Techniques.
Each August, U.S. News & World Report releases its annual rankings of colleges. Together with the other popular guidebooks — Peterson’s, Kaplan and Princeton Review – these lists and guidebooks are an excellent information source. But there is much more to college selection, so students and parents should not rely on them exclusively. Check out the InLikeMe commentary: Making Sense of the College Guides, Lists, and Rankings
College Fairs are a quick and low cost way (often free) way to check out a number of schools and meet admissions representatives without traveling far from home. When you go to a college fair, encourage yourself to ask lots of questions. To learn how to maximize the value of college fair opportunities, check out the InLikeMe commentary: Making the Most of the College Fair.
Catalogs, brochures, web sites and virtual tours are nice, but there’s no substitute for seeing the place in person and meeting real students. Most colleges encourage prospective students to visit the campus any time of year. Find out how to make your visit most productive.
The Web 2.0 generation has given rise to many online forums such as College Confidential in which college-bound students share advice and stories. Some colleges and universities (such as MIT, Johns Hopkins and UVA) are attempting to increase transparency about the admissions process by publishing public blogs with “behind-the-scenes” information for interested students and parents. To learn which schools are blogging and get links to the blogs, check out the InLikeMe commentary: College Admissions Blogs: Behind the Scenes Advice & Information.
One thing’s for sure — you’ll be collecting a lot of stuff! A major point of advice is to get and stay organized. Your stash will include brochures, applications and a variety of paper and electronic information. Check out our tips and techniques for staying organized and efficient .
Lynn Radlauer Lubell, Publisher of InLikeMe.com and Founder of Admission By Design, an Educational Consultancy based in Boca Raton, Florida.