Tips on Investigating Colleges

bestfitWhen searching for colleges, there are a lot of factors that you will want to ask yourself about the colleges that you are considering to help you determine if the school will be the best fit.

When considering fit, keep in mind that there are 3 major areas of fit that ALL need to be aligned in order to find a college that is the best fit for you. These would include academics, personal/ social interests, and financial. You want to find a college that will be academically challenging for you, but also one where you can be successful. You want to find a college which will offer the activities you want to participate in and that has people you can imagine being friends with in the future. And you want to find a college that will be financially affordable.

Here are other questions you should ask yourself when considering colleges:

1. Can I get in? Compare your grade point average and test scores to what the college wants or to the median test scores of entering freshmen. This is not always a complete picture, but it can serve as a guide in allowing you to project how you compare to others who have previously been admitted.

2. Have I taken the proper courses at WKHS to make me competitive? Have you met the requirements in math, science and foreign language? Some highly selective institutions indicate that greater than 80% of the academically qualified applicants are rejected so remember that there are factors other than scholastic achievement that are considered.

3. Does the college have majors that interest me for a career? If you do not know of your intended major(s), are there a wide range of options to select from? What resources and programs does the school offer to students who are undecided about their intended major? What is the job placement rate for students graduating from this college in your particular major of interest?

4. How much does it cost and can I pay for it? Consider tuition, room and board, travel, and personal expenses. Do they provide automatic scholarships and other need based aid? Use the net price calculator on the college's website to get a better idea of the expected cost for that particular school.

5. What is the academic experience of students who attend? Look at the number of freshmen entering the school and the number of students who not only finish the year, but also move on to their sophomore year at the same college. A hgih dropout rate may indicate too rigorous academic standards or too low entrance requirements.

6. What is the faculty like? Look beyond just the "average teacher: student ratio" that many colleges publicize and identify the average ratio of introductory freshman classes. What percentage of the faculty holds doctorate degrees? Are they primarily a research oriented faculty or a teaching faculty? How available to students are the faculty members?

7. What is the campus life like? What do students do on weekends? Do many of them go home? Is the campus empty? What's the situation regarding drinking and drugs? Are there good places to eat, aside from the dining halls? If the school is not co-ed, what kinds of social arrangements are made? How important are sororities and fraternities in campus life? Does most social life depend on them? What about cultural opportunities? Do theatrical companies, orchestras and other musical groups, outside lecturers come to the campus? If not, are such activities available in town? Are groups in the college community involved in what's going on in the outside world - politics, international relations, war and peace? Or is the atmosphere mostly of aloofness from such matters?

8. When is the application due and when do I have to take my standardized tests to meet the deadlines? Remember, timing is everything!

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