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How to Choose the Best College from a List of Colleges

How does one choose the best college from a list of colleges when there are so many choices and so little time? A lot of work, research, and effort are involved in making that choice. Before you have that list of colleges, you must start from scratch.

One of the best ways to choose the best college from a list of colleges is to develop a list of the criteria of what is most important to you on a personal and professional level. Once you have developed that list and ranked your items in importance, you can then do the necessary research and develop a list of colleges that works for you.

Develop a List of Criteria of What is Important

Why is a list of criteria important? Your college experience can make or break you. The perfect college can create professional opportunities that last a lifetime. Choosing the wrong college can delay those opportunities for several years.

According to a 2010 report by the Fiscal Times, only 56 percent of students who enrolled in college earned a degree. Therefore, picking the best college should not be taken lightly. With thousands of colleges in the United States, choosing a good college can be a daunting task.

Your college checklist should contain items that matter to you on a personal and professional level. Once you have the items on your list, rank them in importance and then pick at least five items that matter to you the most. Some of the items you should add to your checklist are cost, location, housing, and campus environment. It is also important to visit the colleges of your choice. What looks good on paper may not be the same once you see it in person. For a sample checklist, visit ACT to download ACT’s sample checklist.

Where to Find Information about the Best Colleges

There are many resources available to help you build your list of colleges. School counselors are an excellent source for information about colleges and are trained specifically to assist students with college admission process. Some of the resources you can utilize for more guidance are the College Board’s College Explorer, My College Guide, or the LoveJoy’s College Guide. Other sources for information are the Internet, college alumni, college students, college fairs, college catalogs, college representatives, professionals in the field, college websites, college professors, Peterson’s, One Hundred Top Colleges: How to Choose and Get In, Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges, Barron’s Guide to the Most Competitive Colleges, American Universities and Colleges, and the College Blue Book.

Applying for Admission

There is no magic number of schools that you should apply to. Most experts recommend you target schools within three groups: reach – less than 30% admittance possibility, target – 30-60% admittance possibility, and safety – greater than 60% admittance possibility to give you a greater chance of getting into at least one of your choices. Keep in mind that each school you apply to will require that you pay application fees and test score (AP, ACT, or SAT) reporting fees.

Set aside the proper amount of time to begin the admission process and be prepared to sell yourself to each prospective college you wish to attend. College applications tend to be lengthy and some require written references and student essays. The research you did regarding your list of colleges will come in handy if you are required to demonstrate to the colleges of your choice that you are a good fit for their organization by writing an essay.

Responding to Admission Offers from Your List of Colleges

You must send acceptance or rejection letters to each college that sends you an admissions letter. Although acceptance rates for Ivy League schools have decreased in recent years, a high percentage of college applicants are accepted by at least one of their college choices.

Once you’ve made your decision, don’t second guess yourself. If you’ve followed suggestions in this article, you will increase the likelihood of getting a good education that will be rewarding.

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