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Starting the college process: how to choose the school that’s right for you

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Attending college is indeed overwhelming when it fits perfectly with your career goals. Finding the right college where you qualify for financial aid, gain knowledge, participate in social activities and step closer towards success can be a dream come true. Before choosing a college, it is mandatory to research well about your dream college and also consider various other options to apply or you might end up landing at a nightmare. Depending on your interest you can prioritise and list various colleges and reasons to choose that particular college. Here is a detailed guide on the process you can adopt while selecting the right college.

How to Choose the Right College for You

The right college helps you enhance your skills and shape your future well. Hence the college selection process should not be neglected. There are various factors to consider while evaluating the colleges. The process includes methods to find the best fit for you which are discussed below.

Conduct Sufficient Research

When you have few colleges in mind, you must conduct research on those colleges. You can research on the school’s websites, online resources like College Board, The College Monk, to learn about the discipline, degrees and also state wise list. Beware that a college admission is a business and they craft the important information as a note for students. It is good if you look at sources like a college newspaper to get information about the campus, infrastructure, tuition etc. Also the review of students about the college can implant a perspective to choose a college. Use the data you have researched well to ensure that you can survive in those environments.

Develop your Shortlist

Upon researching, you will be able to find the pros and cons of each college. Shortlist the ones you would like to continue with or the one which could favour your career. Preparing a list of colleges helps you compare various colleges effectively and saves your time. There are certain factors to note down as you short list some colleges such as the location, enrollment size,degree programs,size of class, opportunities outside of the classroom, cost, acceptability, graduation rate, practical exposure gained and so on.

Rank your Priorities

Based on the list you prepare, be your own judge and rank the colleges in ascending order. The ranks must be given by comparing both your interest and what the college offers. You can take time to make your own rankings. Weighing the pros and cons helps you evaluate the college and make informed choices. Your wants and needs matter in this as that would be the place you are likely to spend the next two or four years based on the degree you choose.

Learn about SAT and ACT Scores

Colleges consider your SAT/ACT score and GPAs to recruit students into their college. They are standardised tests which give a fair and open chance to all to get accepted to that college.

The colleges look for students with a high score  as this helps in increasing the college ranking. As a student, you must be concerned about what is a good SAT score and how to earn the same, the answer to this varies and can depend on the college you want to apply for. As you list the colleges, you must determine the 25th and 75th percentile scores of students in the previous years. This helps you determine the average score of the students that were accepted. A good score could vary in a range of 1400-1500 and students who score in the 75th percentile are likely to get accepted in any college.

If you want to get into a particular college, aim and set a goal score that would help you get accepted to any college of your choice. Preparing early helps in clearing the test with better results.

Be open to suggestions 

Take guidance from your parents, mentor and a counsellor for college recommendations and their opinions on your list. You should also ask the students currently pursuing a program at their college to understand how they felt after getting into the college. Their answer could matter and help you understand the inside-outs.

Don’t procrastinate

Know the timeline to apply for a college. Deadline to apply for a college depends on the institution and varies from college to college. But it is typically by January for regular fall admission. It is better to start the application process as early as when in high school senior year. The application usually consists of a letter of recommendation, unique essay, your academic record and test results. Your application represents your education, qualifications and why you are a good fit for the college. We advise you to prepare drafts and take expert suggestions and ensure you submit it before deadlines.

You can also make campus visits to learn about your expenses on transport. If it is not possible you may consider the virtual campus tour and follow up with the college officials.

Focus on your endgame Compare financial aid awards

The tuition cost in the U.S. may vary largely based on the ranks of the college. Typically the average cost of tuition is $10,116 for a public institution and $36,801 for private schools. You should be aware whether your family can afford to pay for your tuition. If you are a student coming from a low income family, you should look for the financial aid options the college provides such as scholarships, grants since you don’t need to pay them back. Scholarships are free money awarded based on your performance in academics, art or sports. To apply for one, you must find College Scholarships based on your requirement and eligibility.

The college may also provide other assistance such as a student loan where you’ll have to repay it after completing your education. It is good to consider these options and evaluate the college as well.

Investigate job connections

Finally, joining a college is fruitful when you know you will get a job of your interest after graduating. Hence you must check the school’s career center to learn about the placement statistics. When you take a campus tour or visit an education fair, you can approach them by asking about the on-campus interview opportunities, the organisations that recruit students and even the counselor-to-student ratio. Career centers can also help you regarding the employment and salary data, internship leads, conducting mock interviews, explaining hiring processes and more.


You should start searching for colleges as early as possible to ensure you can enroll for the course of your choice. The Time you spend on researching will be worth it when your dreams come true. Always stay connected with people who wish good and want to help you through this process. Take guidance from counselors, family, friends, teachers, coaches, mentors and more.

The selection process from researching, submitting your application to getting accepted by the college may seem time consuming. But this is the time you take to invest for your best future. However, the final decision is in your hand to choose the college that gives you happiness and contentment.

If you have any tips for choosing a college, please share in the comments below


Career CamelStarting the college process: how to choose the school that’s right for you

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