The Ultimate College Application Workbook

Are You Stressed About Your Child's College Applications?

If so, now's the time to learn how to:

  • Understand What Admissions Committees Want
  • Help Your Child Highlight Their Strengths
  • Figure Out the True Costs Before Applying

Where Should I Send the Download?

Now that you have completed a thorough assessment of your academic record, GPA, and test scores, it is time to put some thought into determining the characteristics of a college that will provide a perfect fit for you.

This is a very important step in your college search. With over 2,500 four-year college and universities in the United States, there are numerous schools that can provide an excellent college experience. The trick is to determine which schools will work best for you.

Contrary to what many parents and students may be thinking, there is no perfect school out there. There are numerous schools that could provide an excellent education for you.

Here is an overview of the college characteristics that you should think about:

Size of School: There are colleges of every size in this country, ranging from student bodies with hundreds of students to schools with over 60,000 students. You need to give some thought to what size school works best for your academic as well as social interests.

Larger schools often offer a wide variety of classes and majors. These schools can be a great pick for students who are unsure about what they want to major in because they have so many options when they do choose. Many students like to attend big schools because of their well-known sports programs.

These schools also tend to be highly diverse since they have so many students from so many different backgrounds. Finally, large colleges often have bigger classes—but not always—so they are a good pick if you prefer lecture classes rather than small class discussion.

Smaller colleges, on the other hand, tend to promote closer interactions between professors and students because class sizes tend to be smaller. In these classes, emphasis tends to be on discussion rather than lectures.

Small colleges also have tremendous resources to help you in your personal and career development. Because there are fewer students, their resources are not stretched as thin as at larger schools.

Geography: It is also important to consider the location of your colleges. Will you want to be able to come home on weekends, for example? If you prefer to go away to school, do you have family and friends who will be near you? Is important for you to be in or near a big city, or do you prefer a more rural area?

Academics: There are a couple of things to keep in mind when considering what you want from your college’s academics. Do you want to attend the school with a very rigorous academic program? Or do you prefer one with more modest academic standards? Also think about how you perform under stress. If you don’t do well when you are under intense pressure, you should consider a college with less rigorous academics.

The second thing to think about is whether there are majors that you are seriously considering. Are you looking for courses that are more career-oriented and that will lead you into a job once you graduate? Or are you interested in pursuing a more general undergraduate education and then potentially going on to graduate or professional school?

Social Environment: It is also important to consider what you are looking for in the social environment for college. To ensure that you have a positive college experience, you need to think about what characteristics you are looking for in your college. Are you more interested in a college with a vibrant social scene, or do you prefer a school that is a little bit more quiet and laid back?

Are there specific activities—sports, clubs, organizations—that you are interested in? Do you want to go to school that has big sporting events? Are fraternities and sororities important to you? Do you want to attend a school with a particular religious affiliation? Do you prefer coeducational or single-sex colleges? Are you looking for a college that has a number of students from a specific ethnic or racial group? All of these factors should be considered as you put together your college list.

Cost/Financial Aid: A final issue that you should think about is cost. There is a huge range of costs for colleges in this country, but it is important to keep in mind that there is also a tremendous amount of financial aid available.

It is very important to be realistic about college costs and how much your family can pay, but, at the same time, it is also important that you not let cost completely guide your college selection. This is an enormous financial investment and you want to approach it rationally.

 

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