There’s a lot of information about what colleges look for in student applications, but many times the conversation about what students should look for in colleges gets left out.
This step in the college search process is very important! It’s crucial to flip the focus from “Why would this school want you?” to “Why would you want this school?” I encourage students to not only consider the facts but also the “feels” they get from a college or university because that’s what will help in that final college selection. My recommendations to help narrow your pool:
Engage with current students as much as possible. It’s immensely important to see how you might feel as a part of their student body and connect with your potential peers. Attend visit programs, shadow a class, set up a 1:1 student appointment; many admissions units have these opportunities already or are happy to set them up upon request.
Don’t hesitate to ask questions. Whether it’s crucial to your decision or a minor detail, reach out for answers. It’s our job as admissions representatives to help you find the best place to accomplish your personal and academic goals.
Determine both what you want and DON’T want as part of your student experience. Make a list that contains each school’s negatives and positives. Stop considering any schools with items that are deal breakers for you, regardless of their positive attributes. This will help narrow down your options rather quickly, so you can use your time exploring better fits for you.
Flip a coin with a school on each side and close your eyes. When it lands, open your eyes and see how you feel. Be honest with yourself and with others about your reaction, too. It may surprise you but it usually is the correct one. If you see one school and suddenly want to flip again, you most likely have your answer.
Deciding where to attend college is meant to be fun and exciting! Use your resources and trust your gut on where you feel is the best fit to have a happy, healthy, and successful college career. This is your college experience, so put yourself in the driver’s seat. I promise you, it will be an incredible ride.
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