How To Make A List of Colleges To Apply To
by Dr. Trama - Tuesday, September 4th, 2012 College Preparation & Planning

With the start of another school year upon us, it’s time to think about college applications. But where to start? There are literally thousands of options available to you. How do you narrow your list down? Here are some of the ways that we’ve found to be helpful when you’re figuring out where to apply.

1. What Type Of School Do You Want?

This might seem like an obvious statement, but it’s an important one. By “type” we don’t mean “party school” or “non-party school;” instead, there are certain demographics that can be used to find schools that will be a good fit.

First, are you looking for a four-year school, or a community college? Are you looking for a private school or a public university? How large of a school do you want to attend? If you’re not sure, that’s OK too. You can narrow your search down in other ways.

2. Where Do You Want To Attend School?

A lot of times, location is going to be a driving factor when students pick colleges to apply to, and that’s OK. Have you always wanted to study in Boston? Do you need to get out of the winters in the Northeast? If you set your sights on a specific region of the country, you can narrow your results drastically.

Maybe you don’t want to go more than a few hours away from home. Maybe you’ve never been to California and want to go. When choosing schools to apply to, you are limited only by your imagination.

3. What Do You Want To Study?

Even if you found the perfect looking four-year school in Boston, it might not have the field of study you’re interested in.  Lots of students are undecided about what they want to study, but if you know what you want to major in, this can be a decisive factor in what colleges to apply to.

4. What Do You Want To Do While You’re At School?

This question is different than the previous one because it has to do with extracurricular activities. Do you want to keep playing lacrosse when you go to college? Are you interested in honor societies, or volunteer groups? Schools that have vibrant student communities could play a vital role in your decision to apply.

There are numerous ways to narrow your college search down further, including how selective of a college you’re looking for, how diverse the college’s student body is, or what kind of support services the school offers.

What’s important to remember is that there is a school as unique as you are out there, and asking yourself these questions can help you to uncover it. The College Board website makes the search process straightforward, and it’s a great tool in deciding where to apply.

That said, there’s no substitute for actually getting yourself on a school’s campus. A college might seem perfect on paper, but once you’re physically standing there, it might not be so rosy. As often as you can, it’s important to make a visit to the schools to which you want to apply. This might not be easy if you want to apply to a school on the other side of the country, but if you can make the trip to see the school for yourself, you should always do it.

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