Common Mistakes When Choosing And Applying to Colleges
There’s no such thing as the perfect college. Your goal is to find the best fit for you based on your needs and preferences. It sounds simple enough, but there are some common mistakes high school students tend to make when choosing and applying to their short list of institutions. Here are seven to consider.
Not Choosing A Reach Or Safety School
If there’s a reach school you really want to attend but it has a teeny-tiny admission rate and your test scores and GPA don’t fit their requirements, it’s still worth taking a shot. You could write a killer essay that really speaks to the admissions staff or impress them with that nonprofit you started.
On the flip side, it’s nice to have a safety net. Apply to a college you’re almost sure of getting into so you have a fallback on the off chance none of your other choices see how amazing you are.
Not Visiting Schools
For most high school students and their families, it’s impossible to visit every college that’s in consideration. But once you narrow down your list to two or three schools, it’s worth scheduling a campus visit. Nothing will give you a better feel for a school than sitting in on a class, talking to students, touring the campus and eating in the dining hall. Remember, brochures and websites are usually created by marketing experts who are trained to put the school’s best face forward.
Using The Same Essay For All Applications
Although it’s fine to use parts of an essay on multiple applications, tailor each essay to answer each school’s questions, and remember to change the name of the institution! There’s nothing like saying, “I really want to attend College A” on the application for College B.
Start researching, applying and working on your essay early. Waiting until the last minute can cause you to make mistakes, miss deadlines and write a less-than-amazing essay.
Not Calculating The Net Cost Of A School
When you’re considering the cost of attending an institution, make sure you’re looking at the net cost—the cost of everything after financial aid is applied. A more expensive school may provide better financial aid, making it less expensive than a school that has a lower tuition but offers less financial aid.
Going Where Your Friends Go
Following your best friend or high school love interest to their college of choice devalues your own interests and independence. You’re not looking for a repeat of high school. You’re headed to college to learn new things, meet new people and find out where you fit into the world. Don’t tag along for fear of losing that relationship. If it’s meant to be, it will withstand the distance.
Only Using One Criterion
Choosing a school based solely on prestige is more about ego than determining what you really want out of your college experience. Likewise, factoring in only your choice of major is also not a good idea because most students will change majors several times. Consider things such as location, student-to-faculty ratio, financial aid, size, diversity, graduation rate and other factors, and you’ll find better-fitting schools from which to choose.