Study Break - Starting The College Search
Updated: Jul 6, 2021
Hey, soon to be high school seniors!
Let's talk about one thing that is probably on your mind even though school is out: COLLEGE! Are you feeling overwhelmed because you don't know where to start? Well I am here to help you.
Personally I already had my top school picked out by the time the summer before my senior year started, but if you don't that's totally fine! So how do you figure out your top school? And how do you figure out your backup schools? It can be a little daunting, but one thing you should not do is leave it till the last minute!
Here are some factors to consider when looking for a school:
-Cost (Don't forget about the fees associated with attending the
school, those fees need to be factored into your budget)
-Avg. Amount of Aid Offered (While these statistics do not give you an
idea of how much aid you will receive, it will let you know if you
have a better chance at receiving enough aid to attend that college)
-Offered Majors (You can't go to a school that doesn't have the major
you want to pursue! If you're not sure what you want to major in
than the community college is a great place to get your general
credits knocked out)
-Location (Colleges located in cities have more business and computer
science opportunities and internships nearby, while schools in less
developed areas may be better for those interested in natural
resource related majors)
-Student Experience (Campus life isn't everything, but you want to find
somewhere that you will be able to be happy and thrive. Also, do
some research and find testimonies from current and past students
on their experiences, this will give you an idea about what the
college is like for other students attending that school.
-Statistics (Look at things like acceptance rate, retention rate, and
graduation rate. These will tell you how hard it is to get accepted
to a school, what percentage of students switch to another
college, and how many students don't graduate. These three
statistics are important to compare when deciding which schools
to apply for.
So now you know what to look for in a college but where do you even start looking? Some of my favorite college search engines are:
These sites allow you to explore different colleges based on different search criteria (like the ones I mentioned before!) You can also use Naviance, which is available to you through your school, it has a quiz type feature that allows you to fill out a survey and matches you with potential colleges. However, don't let these types of quizzes be the end of your college search, use them as the beginning but go deeper!
Another way to find a college is to start with the state you want to be in. I found my dream college on a family vacation. If I didn't go on that trip I may have not found the college of my dreams, so don't be afraid to start your college search unconventionally!
If you are still feeling totally overwhelmed then I have one more method for you: contact people who are doing your dream job. Asking people who are doing the job that you want to do where they went to college and what their major is can help you narrow your list of potential colleges. You may be hesitant to reach out to professionals that you aspire to be like, however most of the time they are more than happy to help you out and give you some advice, even if the field is competitive. In your email make sure you show your passion for the field and also don't forget to thank them for their help in advance! Email is good, but it is even better if you can talk to someone in person, so if its possible try and have a little field trip so you can form a connection with the person doing your dream job.
However, its totally okay if you think college isn't right for you! There are other options such as trade school, certifications, and apprenticeships. All of these allow for you to learn in a more hands-on environment that is a fast track to the work force. All of these options will allow you to be a competitive applicant for many well paying jobs.
Hopefully you feel a little bit less in over your head about finding your top college, second choice college, and safety schools (You should have at-least 5 schools in all). This will give you choices when you get the decisions from colleges and you have to pick which one you will attend, trust me, decision day will be here before you know it! I wish you the best of luck on your college search and of course if you need any help feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org