Finding the perfect college is no easy task. You want to make sure that the college you choose will help you meet your academic and career goals. With over 4,000 colleges and universities in the US, this can take some time. The first step is to create a manageable shortlist of the best-fit colleges for you. Using the process of elimination is the best way to whittle down your college choices to something that’s more manageable. Look for these red flags to decide when to remove a college from your list.
The College Doesn’t Offer Your Choice of Major
If you’ve already decided on a major, it’s a waste of time even looking at schools that don’t offer it. Don’t feel tempted to compromise and choose another major just because you’ve always dreamed of attending a particular college. If your ‘dream school’ doesn’t offer your choice of major, it’s not really your dream school. It’s important to choose a college based on your major and not the other way around.
Doing a college search by the major of your choice will instantly remove all colleges that don’t meet this crucial criteria.
Your Degree Options are Limited
This tip applies if you haven’t decided on a major yet. Don’t worry if you haven’t. Not everyone has a clear idea of what they want to do when they’re in high school. However, your shortlist criteria will be a different from students who know what they want to major in. For the undecided, it’s important to shortlist colleges that offer a wider array of degree options.
Start by exploring the list of courses or degree options that different colleges offer. Remove a college from your list if you’re not interested in the degrees they offer.
The College Doesn’t Offer Your Choice of Extracurricular Activities
Participating in extracurricular activities is an integral part of the college experience. Being able to pursue your favorite activities in college can make your college experience so much richer. Everyone enjoys a different activity but it’s impossible for any one college to offer students all the options. Each college offers a different selection of extracurricular activities that students can choose from.
Look through the list of extracurricular activities that a college offers. Though it may not be the #1 reason to eliminate a college from your list, it’s worth considering campus activities.
You Cannot Afford the Cost of Tuition
Very few families in America can afford to pay the high cost of college from their personal savings. Financial aid in the form of scholarships, grants, work-study, and loans can help offset some of the costs. Sometimes however, even with the financial aid, some schools on your list may still be unaffordable. Taking on excessive loans simply because you’ve got your heart set on a school can be a mistake.
If, after you’ve exhausted all financial aid options, you still cannot afford a particular college, remove it from your list. When comparing costs of colleges, make sure you’re basing your comparisons on net price and not the published price. Net price is what you will actually pay, which can vary considerably from the published price. College Raptor can help you there. With a free account, you can discover your net price estimate–and expected college financial aid–for every 4-year school in the country!
The College is Too Big or Too Small for You
Some students love the anonymity and impersonal nature of large colleges. Others prefer the friendly atmosphere of a smaller college where everyone knows each other. Which do you think is a better fit for your personality? Give it some thought and remove those colleges from your list that are not the right size for you.
You Don’t Connect with the Campus Culture
Different colleges develop their own unique campus culture. Some campuses may be very competitive, while others may have a friendlier culture. Colleges with religious affiliations may have their own set of regulations. Others may have a completely unstructured and loose.
Campus culture is not something you should overlook. You want to be happy and comfortable on campus. Take the school off your list if its campus culture unnerves you.
The Campus Visit Left You Unimpressed
It’s impossible for anyone to get the ‘feel’ of a school from its website. The only way to get a first-hand look and feel of a college is by visiting the campus. During a campus visit, you’ll get to see the facilities up close. You’ll also be able to sit in class during a lecture, meet up with professors, talk to students, and eat at the cafeteria. Do you like what you see? Did your visit excite you? What did you think of the classroom, the cafeteria, and other facilities? Did the staff and students look happy?
Campus visits can often be the deciding factor for many students. If your campus visit didn’t leave you feel excited at the thought of attending, it shouldn’t be on your list.
When to Remove a College From Your List
Narrowing down your college list is a key element in finding the colleges you’d like to apply to. After all, applying to 50 schools is a bit unrealistic and expensive. The reason for removing a school may be one of these features or several in combination. Whatever the reason, you’re one step closer to finding the ideal college for you.