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WWRD: The College Search

Allison Kufta, Editor in Chief

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Hi Rocky,

The college search process seems so overwhelming! Do you have any tips?

Sincerely,

College Searcher (Worried Junior / Proactive Underclassman )

 

Dear College Searcher,

I definitely know that feeling! It’s okay to feel anxious about choosing the place you will spend the next 4 years of your life, but I have a few tips to help you.

Use databases/rankings

It can be helpful to look at other people’s lists before making your own. Keep in mind, take rankings with a grain of salt, because they are not definitively representative of the college. A better way to find rankings is to search by your interests/major. “Best school” lists are too subjective. For your interests, make sure that the school is accredited in your prospective field, that’s extremely important.

Cross reference, cross reference, cross reference

Do not stick to only one site. In fact, I recommend sites with real student reviews, not just algorithm based rankings that rank by almost arbitrary figures. Make sure you keep in mind that the reviews are also not comprehensive and that the reviews represent a vocal minority. The information, positive or negative, is still great to keep in mind though. High research expenditure does not always correlate to great professors.

Recommended sites:

Search by different parameters

Things to keep in mind:

Programs — You’re here for the academics first, and everything else second. Make sure that it has a good program for your major.

Size — do you prefer large, medium, or small school? There are pros and cons to each size.

Location — Do you want urban or rural?  Do you care? If you want to go far, do the logistics make sense? (Expensive to go very far away)

Clubs — often correlates to size, but does it have clubs you want?

Cultural Climate — Not every school has Greek life, and different campuses have a different student vibe to them. To figure this out, you probably need to visit.

Dorms/Facilities — Do you care deeply about the facilities? Make sure to look at pictures/take a virtual tour/ real tour.

Financial Aid — Are you okay with breaking the bank for an undergraduate degree? Make sure you know if it’s worth the money. Are you going to pursue graduate school? If yes, a quality, affordable undergraduate degree makes more sense than digging yourself into a lot of debt.  

Ask Around

Ask your family/friends/ anyone for their opinions on colleges. Even ask about their friends who went to other schools. Real, uncensored opinions are quite helpful and may reveal something that obviously doesn’t show up on the school’s pristine website.

Got a list? Visit

Once you have your list, it’s time to start visiting campuses. If you can, it’s helpful to visit when there’s a lot of people in the school. Shadowing is preferable. Make sure you visit the Admissions Office, as having a record of visiting helps you if you apply.

Hopefully those tips were useful! If you have any more questions, feel free to ask a current senior or any high school graduate you know!

— Rocky

 

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