When you start your search for colleges, you might be overwhelmed with the number of choices you have. If you’re struggling to narrow down your college choices, try using one of these five methods:
#1: Start with Simple Research
Looking up each college takes time, but it can definitely pay off in the long run. Try dedicating a few hours each week to researching college and universities that fit your needs and wants. Their website is a good place to start but go beyond that (as schools will show you what they want you to see here). Check out blog posts, reviews, articles, social media profiles, and financial information about each college before making a decision.
Not sure how to narrow down schools during this part of the process? Try using our search tool to find the best fits for your needs and goals; it does most of the legwork for you!
#2: Weigh the Pros and Cons
Once you’ve done enough research on schools, you can start to compare and weigh the pros and cons of each. Think of your personal wants here too. What are you looking for in a school?
Do the cons far outweigh the pros on one or two schools? You can probably cross those off the list. Make sure you also compare the colleges to one another as well!
#3: Complete a College Worksheet
Weighing the pros and cons isn’t always easy. If you don’t have an organized way of writing them down, you could find yourself overwhelmed. We put together a college worksheet that helps you determine which schools are best for your education and future. You can write down your opinion of each college and see how it compares to the other colleges on your list.
#4: Visit Them
Sometimes the best way to get an accurate picture of a college is to visit it (and it’s recommended regardless!). This will help you determine if the city or town is right for you, while also giving you a good idea of the campus. You can check out the dorms, dining halls, classrooms, and more during a visit, especially if you decide to take a tour. But be sure to also take some time to walk around yourself minus the tour guide, as, like the college’s website, they will often only show you what they want you to see.
#5: Talk to People
Whether during your visit or online (or both), talking to people about your college choices can provide some valuable insight. You’ll want to talk to faculty if possible, but also current students and alumni. They can give you an honest opinion of the college, what they thought about their time there, what they liked and didn’t like, and how their career has been after graduation.
You should also talk to your guidance counselor about any potential schools you’re applying to as they could have relationships with the college and offer some tips or details you hadn’t known previously.
In short, narrow down your college choices by doing research! Whether you’re using our search tool, the college worksheet, talking to people, or checking out the schools’ social media pages, research will help you determine which schools you should actually apply to.