Make a list and check it more than twice!
Shveta Bagade, Independent College Counselor, Bay Area, California.
It is a jungle out there, when it comes to Colleges. There are thousands of colleges, well tens of thousands of colleges if you are talking worldwide. It is hard enough deciding which movie to watch on Netflix on a given night, so finding colleges is a much bigger deal. It can be confusing and complicated!
Not to worry, I am here to make it a little easier for you when it comes to US Colleges. You will still have a lot of heavy lifting to do, but at least you know you are following a plan!
To make this work, there are 2 prerequisites before you start exploring colleges:
First, what major (or course) you plan to pursue in College. This decision may be based on your strong interest or passion for a particular course of study or a career goal, etc. Or, you simply don't have a particular major that excites you and you would just like to get a good undergraduate education. That's fine.
Second, your GPAs in high school so far, and Standardized Test Scores for the SAT or ACT.
Once you have the prerequisites, then you can start the process to determine a list of colleges to explore:
Our goal here is to give you a process to pick colleges to explore, 5 colleges at a time.
Cast your net to find colleges with your major. If you do not have a major, then a good idea would be to look for colleges with liberal arts programs which would give you a broad undergraduate education.
The list from Step 1 is pretty daunting, so let's apply your personal preferences that are important and non-negotiable as it applies to your college experience:
At this point you have set of US colleges that match your college experience requirements.
It is now time to pick an initial list of colleges to explore out of the list at the end of Step 2. To do this,
As you research each college on your initial list from Step 3, here are some guidelines on what to look for in a colleg
a) Check to see if your GPA and SAT score to pick colleges where your grades and scores are in the mid-range or higher of their admissions requirements.
b) Determine which of these factors are important to you, and note if what the college has to offer matches your expectations or requirements. The factors are:
For each college, make a note of the factors above that are relevant/important to you. This will help you decide which colleges are worth exploring further.
After exploring and researching each college from the initial list, you need to determine if you want to keep the college on the list or not. If you have 10 or more, then share that list with your Counselor to discuss and refine.
If the number of colleges on the list is less than 5, then
This is one of the most critical steps in the College Applications process. Every time you have a modified list, I would recommend that you have it reviewed by your counselor. The discussion around that review will further clarify your college requirements and provide insight into what other colleges you may want to explore.
Good luck with the college journey. May you find the right college!