Choosing a College; How to Start

With nearly 3,500 universities and colleges to choose from, any student who takes the time to thoroughly explore his or her educational options should have no problem gaining admission to several which meet their needs. In fact, if students realize there are many colleges, not just a few, in which they can be both happy and successful, if they get started on their college search no later than the fall of their junior year of high school, and if they use the informational resources available to them, their college search can be almost anxiety free. Remember that fewer than ten percent of the colleges and universities in the United are highly selective. So, unless you apply to a highly selective college or university, your chances for admission to the institutions you have chosen are probably pretty high if you have been realistic in your choices. Conversely, if your grades and standardized test scores are high enough so that highly selective colleges are a reasonable option for you, you should be a lock for admission to one of the many 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.

Remembering these statistics, you are ready to begin the process of selecting and gaining admission to a college. Look for and find six to eight colleges which offer the major(s) of greatest interest to you, are likely to admit students with your grades and scores, and provide the campus lifestyle and environment you seek. Start by meeting with your college counselor to:

1. request that he or she recommend several colleges to you.

2. put together a list of the high school courses you need to complete.

3. sign up for the SAT and ACT.

4. find out which college admissions counselors will be visiting your high school.

5. find out about upcoming college fairs in your area.

Don’t overlook all the great college, scholarship, financial aid, and career information available on the web. Just do a few searches and you’ll be amazed at what you’ll find.

Once you’ve done all that you’re in great shape. Start early, pay attention to details and deadlines, and do your research and you’ll find the college admission process far easier than you’ve imagined.