Choosing A College; How To Start

Posted by Nick Niesen on October 27th, 2010

With more than three thousand colleges and universities from which to choose, every student who takes the time to intelligently explore his or her educational options (and adheres to application and financial aid deadlines) should gain admission to at least three or four institutions in which they are highly likely to be happy and successful. Students and parents will therefore not find the college application process an anxiety provoking experience if they understand there is no single "right" college, if they maintain reasonable expectations, do a little planning, and take full advantage of the many informational resources available to them.

It is important to realize that only about five percent of the colleges and universities in the United States deny admission to more than fifty percent of their applicants. Therefore, unless you plan to apply to those highly selective institutions, the odds of your gaining admission to the colleges to which you do apply are probably very strongly in your favor. And, if your grades and SAT or ACT scores are high enough so that applying to the most selective colleges is a reasonable and realistic option for you, you can almost be assured of admission to any number of excellent but slightly less competitive institutions.

The extent to which a college can afford to be selective is a function of its perceived quality and/or popularity. Thus, while it is true that the colleges and universities with the highest academic profiles tend to be the most selective, many fine institutions do not enjoy the luxury of receiving applications from a significantly greater number of students than they are able to admit, and are therefore only moderately or even minimally selective.

Keeping in mind what we have just discussed, you are now ready to begin your college search.

Your first and most important step to identify at least a half dozen institutions which offer the academic programs and co-curricular activities of interest to you, provide a campus environment in which you will feel comfortable, and are likely to offer you admission. Begin by meeting with your school counselor to:

1.solicit his or her college recommendations.
2.discuss the courses you plan to take in future years.
3.sign up for the SAT and ACT.
4.learn which college representatives will be visiting your school.
5.find out about upcoming college fairs in your area.

Don?t forget that the web is a great source of information. Do a few searches for terms like colleges", "college scholarships", "financial aid" and "college admissions" to identify some good online resources.

After completing the above steps, you?re off to a good start. Enjoy your search!

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Nick Niesen

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Nick Niesen
Joined: April 29th, 2015
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