Choosing Your College List!!
So this is the time of year that
12th Graders should really have chosen all of their schools they
will be applying to in the Fall.
Many students have a hard time deciding on their final choices. I want to address this in this edition
of the CollegeSource Blog.
I think that one of the biggest
problems is that students like to do this backwards. That is, they question whether they will get into a college,
based on it’s popularity, it’s average SAT scores, it’s Aura!! I think that the best place to start is
with your own preferences.
As we remind our students at
CollegeSource over and over, this is a great opportunity for self
exploration. You will feel so much
more empowered if you “own” this process and choose your schools based on what
you want. Some of the larger
categories to think about in terms of preferences would be:
Life: What are your academic
interests? Not necessarily your “Major”, that may change and is one of the
great things about the flexibility of the US Undergrad program, just think
about what areas are you interested in.
What is your academic ability? We often think that getting into the most
selective college, whether we are academically capable of dealing with it or
not, is the best thing. But just
ask an overwhelmed student mid way through the semester what he thinks of this
logic. Sometimes it might be
better to be the BIG fish in a Smaller pond.
If you thrive at a small school where there is a lot of individual attention,
you may not be happy at a large university. Larger schools may be very
exciting, have amazing sports and a huge choice of great majors and professors,
but if you prefer smaller classes and getting to know your faculty, a smaller
college might be a better fit.
and Setting. This includes geographical area as well as setting: rural,
suburban, urban. Try to imagine
what it will be like in those environments and weather. Remember, you will be there for 4
years!! if you like to be near
theater, museums, and nightlife, you may want to reconsider a rural college
that has little access to the cultural offerings of a city-based school.
Life/Extracurricular Activities. Making friends and meeting new people is a
vital part of college life, so you will want to consider whether a school is
coeducational or single sex; the ratio of males to females; or the general
student-body atmosphere. If sports and clubs are important to you, be sure that
that school has a variety of extracurricular activities.
you have made a list of things that constitute your “preferences”, you may want
to look into your constraints:
Standards. After you've completed your personal evaluation-taking into
consideration your course-work, test scores, class ranking, general academic
strengths, as well as your outside interests-you must honestly decide whether
you are eligible for admission to a particular school. Again, I would urge you to really
question schools that are a major stretch for you academically. If you do get in, will it be worth it
to have to work like a dog just to be in the bottom third of class?
For International students, financial aid is limited. If cost is an issue, definitely understand the institutional
aid offered at the school. You may
also want to look into public schools in the mid-west region of the US, they
tend to be less expensive. I would like to de-mystify one myth I have
heard in India many time, “it is easy to get into the Top schools if you can
pay for it”. This is not true,
they have plenty of applications in the “no-need” category. However, it is true that it may be more
difficult in many schools to get admission if you cannot pay for it. The reason is that they may not have
enough money to offer you and would then think that you would not be able to
come. Therefore, they would rather
say no to you than you say no to them.
So, where do you find all of this
students get frustrated when looking at the college websites and throw up their
arms stating, “They all look the GREAT!”
Well, yeah! They spend
loads of money trying to impress you.
Here are some sites that have
Student Reviews of schools:
Here you can see many College
Here is a great survey form based
on the preferences described above: http://www.fiskeguide.com/belong.html
To understand more about average
SAT scores and grades of the students getting into various schools, I like to
look at US News or The College Board’s site.
US News: http://www.usnews.com/usnews/edu/college/rankings/rankindex_brief.php
When you see SAT scores listed as
25-75 percentile. One can
generally estimate that if you are in the middle 50%, you have a decent
shot. If you are above the 75th
percentile, well, that is pretty likely admit. Below the 25th percentile, you better have some
other amazing hook if you want to get in, and you should consider how it will
be to go to school there, given 75% of the students are likely stronger than
Here is another exploration site
that I like: http://www.collegenight.com