17 Jun

How to Choose the “Right” College

If you have been reading my blog, you know now that the “right” college can save you money, but how can you help your student to find that college? Here are some simple steps your student can follow to help him/her start the college selection process:

1. Get Your Goals in Sight. Choose 3 fields of interests or majors you’re interested in, and write them down. You’re going to want to start by looking for schools that offer you the option to study the things you are passionate about!

2. The Right Stuff. There’s a lot more to choosing the right college than finding a school with your intended major! You need to decide what kind of environment will make you feel comfortable and happiest and yet still provide the best learning environment for you – so start off by deciding what you want out of a school in the following 15 areas:

  • Location (close enough to the beach? far enough from home?)
  • Size (big, small, in-between)
  • Athletic Program
  • Talent Program(s) (theater, newspaper, etc)
  • Special Programs (facilities for learning disabilities, medical needs, etc.)
  • Co-Op Programs
  • Job Placement
  • Religion (one, several, or none?)
  • Attrition
  • Student/Faculty Ratio
  • Safety
  • Students (are they too casual/serious, or just the right balance of work and play for you?)
  • Housing
  • Food (do they have vegetarian options? fast food?)
  • Weather

Wondering where you can look to get clued in about all these important factors? You can either check out each college’s individual information (all this should be available in their literature or on their website) or grab one of these handy college guides:

  • Peterson’s Four Year College 2009
  • Princeton Review’s Best 368 Colleges 2009
  • Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges 2008
  • Edward Fiske’s Fiske Guide to Colleges 2009

3. Play the Matching Game. Now that you have your college wish list, match up your wants with each of the colleges you are considering, and nix the ones that don’t match! You may also want to do a college search (the CollegeBoard College Search is one place to start) for schools that fit the criteria you’re looking for. Eventually you’ll want to narrow your college list down to only 6 or 8.

4. Visit Your Top Choices. You absolutely have to visit your top-choice colleges in order to get a feel for your comfort level on campus. Is it what you expected it to be? Maybe it’s better – or worse! This is a four-year commitment, so don’t go into it without a little test-drive! If you have a tough time choosing between acceptance letters, consider making another visit to your favorites before you make your final choice. (And make sure you sit in on a couple of classes, check out the dorms and give the food a taste test!)

All the best,
Deborah Fox

photo: Slice by sofijab

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6 Responses to “How to Choose the “Right” College”

  1. 1
    Pay for College Blog » Blog Archive » The Right College Means Happier Students–and Parents Says:

    […] him to make a seamless transition from high school to college. I have written in other posts how important a “college match” can be in reducing your college expenses.  (A college match is where you match your student’s profile with the freshman profile of a […]

  2. 2
    Pay for College Blog - Tips on reducing the cost of college Says:

    […] him to make a seamless transition from high school to college. I have written in other posts how important a “college match” can be in reducing your college expenses. (A college match is where you match your student’s profile with the freshman profile of a […]

  3. 3
    Pay for College Blog » Blog Archive » The Million Dollar Myth Says:

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  4. 4
    Pay for College Blog - Tips on reducing the cost of college Says:

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  5. 5
    Pay for College Blog » Blog Archive » Yale Gets an “F” in New College Ranking System Says:

    […] trouble figuring out where to begin? Take a look at this article I wrote about how to choose the best school for your student; it will walk you through a checklist of items that will make a big difference to your […]

  6. 6
    Pay for College Blog » Blog Archive » An Admissions Break for “Rich” Students? Says:

    […] Learn how to choose the right schools for your child. College selection is about much more than Ivy League prestige or even choosing a strong major program. Learn what areas you and your student need to consider when you are pouring over those college guides and brochures. . […]

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