Traveling isn’t exactly cheap so before you sign up for a bunch of different college campus tours, you might want to do a little research first! There are a few things that you should keep in mind when determining whether or not a college is the one for you – and while you should try to keep a variety in there, just in case you have a change of heart, you should make sure that you have a few on your “must visit” list that fit the bill!
Location – It might seem strange for someone to accept an offer of college admission without knowing the location, but it’s happened on more than one occasion. Just because a college is in New York doesn’t mean it’s in or right next to bustling New York City, and just because a college is located in the Midwest doesn’t mean it’s teeny tiny or small town. Find out more about the area you are thinking about calling “home” to see if it fits in with your style. Don’t base your college decision on your Aunt’s neighbor’s son’s college experience. See for yourself – after you do the research.
Selectivity – If you take a look at your SAT or ACT test scores: how do they compare to incoming students? Does your GPA match up to the admission requirements? Look at the whole picture. See if there’s anything else mentioned (a year of foreign language, etc.) that is required and also lacking in your application. Don’t waste time visiting 10 hyper-selective schools when the numbers don’t match up. It’s okay to apply to one or two (we call those reach schools) but be realistic. Spend your time on college applications and visits that you can actually get into.
Majors and Minors – While you might be absolutely positive right now about your intended major, once you actually dig in and take a few classes, you may realize it isn’t the right fit for you. Instead, think about a few things that interest you – and then check to see if the related majors are even offered. This tiny bit of future planning could save you an un-needed college visit or a college transfer down the line!
Tuition and Financial Aid – How well does your intended college handle financial aid for its students? Is it hard to come by? Of course, you should fill out the FAFSA but it’s important to know how your school specifically handles aid. For example, if you are a low income student, will your college work with you? Do they have no loans packages? If you don’t qualify for need-based aid, are there merit scholarships available? If several colleges on your list aren’t known for assisting students that match your characteristics, you may want to think about replacing them with colleges that do.
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