Going through the websites of all the colleges in the US and short-listing those that look interesting is definitely not a smart way to go about searching for colleges. With over 2,000 colleges across America, going through them all could take you a very, very long time. The only way to keep the college search process manageable is by putting in place smart strategies for starting the college process.
Start Your College Search With A Brainstorming Session
Self discovery should be your first step of the college search process. Planning on attending a particular college just because an older sibling or your best friend loved the institution is never a good idea. You have to remember that what is a good school for them may not be the ideal option for you. Instead, you should search for a college keeping in mind your unique personality traits, individual preferences and career goals.
During your brainstorming, try and answer these questions:
- What subject do you want to major in?
- What are your career goals?
- Strengths and weaknesses?
- What is your learning style?
- Do you thrive in a highly competitive environment or does competition overwhelm you?
- What is your family’s financial situation?
Keep Academic Programs As Your Primary Shortlist Criteria
Use your answers to the questions above as guidelines for your college search.
If you have not decided on a major yet, don’t let that become a reason to put off your college search. Many students start college without having declared a major. One way to proceed is to make a list of probable majors, keeping in mind your interests and aptitude. Are you inclined towards the sciences, or do you lean towards the arts? Do your strengths lie in chemistry, math, or languages? Is there something you absolutely do not want to do?
Once you’ve narrowed down what you definitely do not want to do, you can eliminate those colleges right off the bat so you now have a more focused list to work through.
No matter how much you want to attend a particular university, if it does not offer your prospective major/majors, it should not be on your shortlist. Keep your goals in mind and don’t get swayed by a campus that looks top notch but does not have what you want.
Keep Your Other Criteria In Mind
If you want to pursue a favorite extracurricular activity in college, it is important to make sure that you can. If you are a superstar basketball player and you hope to play on the college team, you must make sure that the college has a strong basketball team. On the other hand, if you are a classical musician, a school that will help your talent shine should be your first priority.
Once you’ve narrowed down your list further, go through all the shortlisted colleges again, make notes of admission requirements, application deadlines and any clarifications you need. If you require any clarifications, send out emails to the admissions officers so you can make a more informed decision.
Don’t forget to allow some time to looking for scholarships too. This is free money that you can use to fund your tuition or any other aspect of your college education. Not all scholarships are easy to find so the earlier you start looking, the better your chances of earning one.
College Raptor Can Help
College Raptor is a great tool for anyone building their college lists or researching specific schools. Instead of sleuthing for information on each college’s website, you can just search for them on College Raptor to discover their average ACT/SAT scores, their application requirements, class sizes, acceptance rate, your admission odds, and even how much in scholarship aid the school could give you! All for FREE!