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Starting the college search

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Starting the college search can be a stressful experience for many students. Most do not know where to begin. Some simply decide to go to their local state university and do not consider another school. Others want to look at a variety of colleges and universities before deciding where they would like to apply.

When you begin choosing colleges that might be a good fit, you need to look for schools that have what you are looking for in a college experience. This does not mean that you only consider schools that some of your friends are applying to or ones that are ranked high in the college rankings. It means putting together a good list of schools to which you want to apply. It means looking at schools where you will fit in and have a successful experience.

What do you need to consider when you are starting your college search?

1. LIST THE CRITERIA THAT YOU THINK IS IMPORTANT.

* Do you want to go away or stay closer to home?

* Do you prefer a school with thousands of students or would you be more comfortable in a smaller environment?

* Do you want a college that will challenge you academically or be more laid back?

* Have you decided on a major? If so, what kind of programs does the school offer?

2. CHECK OUT YOUR RESOURCES FOR INFORMATION ON SCHOOLS

* Visit each school’s website and request information for prospective students

* Talk to your counselor, teachers or a private college counselor who can discuss these schools with you and tell you what they know about them

* Do a virtual tour and get a feel for what each school offers

3. FIND OUT ABOUT CAMPUS LIFE

* What percentage of students lives in the dorms?

* What extracurricular activities are available that appeal to you?

* What does the surrounding community offer that sounds interesting?

* Is there a Greek system and what part does it play in the social life?

4. DETERMINE THE FINANCIAL FEASIBILITY

* Use a net price calculator to get an idea of what the school will cost

* Contact someone in the financial aid office to discuss how to pay for college

* What scholarships does the school offer?

5. WHAT ARE THE RETENTION AND GRADUATION RATES

* How many students graduate in 4 years? How many in 5 o 6?

* Is the school committed to seeing their students graduate in 4 years?

* How many students return after their freshman year?

Taking the time to research schools is not an easy task, but it is well worth the effort when you are starting your college search.

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