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College Search: The Beginning

Want to be a Hoya? Check out SChai's Admit Profile now!

Want to be a Hoya? Check out SChai’s Admit Profile now!

SChai: The college search varies for each individual, so I can really only explain what I did and what worked for me. Location was extremely important to me, so I first picked out the only cities I was willing to go to college in. Then I researched private schools in these cities, because I was sure that I wanted to go to a private school. Next, I looked at the academic rigor of each school. I went to a high school with a very rigorous academic culture, and I wanted to be challenged on the same - or a higher - level at college. Last, I took a look at average class size and financial aid opportunities. I recommend determining what factors are most important to you in a college, and then narrowing down your potential schools to schools that offer those specific factors.

Kevin3651: Take some of those silly tests to figure out what your interests are. I regret skewing the data so even though you have something in mind, don’t answer the questions just so you get the occupation you are thinking about. Answer them truthfully. Research some of the occupations that come up and of the ones that look interesting, look up colleges that strong academic programs in those fields. That’s how I picked Grinnell because I knew it had a very strong science program and I wanted to be a doctor, so Grinnell’s great track record into med schools was very attractive to me.

Want to go to UMich? Check out Zharner's Admit Profile!

ZHarner: It is important to know what you are planning on going to school for before you even start looking for colleges to attend. Are you looking to obtain your Bachelor’s degree in Economics or do you just want an accounting certificate? Then think about how long you want to be in college. Do you want to get an Associate’s degree at a two-year community college, or are you going to need to get a Bachelor’s at a four-year school? You then need to consider your budget; do you need to rent an apartment, do you qualify for financial aid, will you be working part-time? These are a few things you should think about when you begin to look at colleges.

Is Wharton your dream school? Check out Mizo's Admit Profile!

Mizo: At the very beginning, it’s a lot of researching and information gathering. Just start looking up schools along with what you are interested in. For instance, if you have heard of a particular college or know of certain colleges that your friends or relatives have gone to, go on the Internet and visit the school website. On the website, look at their offered majors, special programs (including study abroad), clubs and organizations, photos etc. – anything to get a greater idea of what is offered at the university and if it would be a good fit for you. It is hard to get information about what the students are like on university websites, so I would recommend going on more review sites, like AdmitSee, which provides student comments on all aspects of college life. Create a list for yourself of colleges to research, and start narrowing it down and adding new ones until you have a good idea of where you will apply.

Want to go to UW-Madison? Don't miss out on's Admit Profile!

Want to go to UW-Madison? Don’t miss out on’s Admit Profile! I think the best way to start off is to get one of those giant books with all the colleges in the U.S. listed in them (either from the library or by buying it). That’s where I started and it was really helpful to just flip through the book to get an idea of what options were even out there. Simply by looking through the book, I discovered attributes in a college that I hadn’t even considered before, like how big each school was or the diversity of the school. Now that AdmitSee’s around, go through the blog posts and you’ll also be able to find stats about each school, and can also read about current students’ experiences. It’s also a good idea to start by thinking of what kind of environment you want to be in and what major you are considering. If you are interested in business, look up the best undergraduate business programs. If you are undecided, consider looking at schools that will give you the flexibility to change your major if you change your mind!

Unlock PJMarino's Admit Profile if you want to go to BC!

Unlock PJMarino’s Admit Profile if you want to go to BC!

PJMarino: I think the best way to find colleges is to talk to friends and family and try to find a network. If you talk to people who share similar interests with you, they might be able to steer you towards a major that you would do really well in or a campus organization that would be a good fit for you. You should also definitely search on the internet for these types of things or get college guide books, but I think talking to people gives it a more personal touch. AdmitSee allows you to find mentors at the schools you are interested in, so take advantage of their mentorship platform! You can also talk to your favorite teachers or mentors at your high school and see if they have any suggestions. This type of information can be very useful, and often can’t be found in books!

Want to be on the West Coast? Unlock Smileysabrina's Admit Profilen now!

Want to be on the West Coast? Unlock Smileysabrina’s Admit Profilen now!

Smileysabrina: Beginning the search for the perfect college can certainly be overwhelming. Perhaps now more than ever, high school juniors and seniors are constantly inundated with letters, emails, and Facebook ads advertising one school or another—and they all purport, of course, to be the ideal school for you, in one way or another. There’s a few key factors that can help you begin to narrow down your search from the hundreds of schools out there, however: for one, price. Can you afford to pay sticker price for an out-of-state school or private school? If not, narrow your search to in-state schools, and schools that provide lots of financial aid: there’s nothing worse than getting into a school you love but simply can’t pay to attend.

Another filter that’s easy to use as a first criteria to narrow down your search is location. Ask yourself how far from home you  are willing to go, take into consideration where you’ll live, how often you want to go home and visit your family, etc. If you want to stay in-state, for example, that certainly eliminates a lot of schools right from the get-go. If, on the other hand, you want to get as far as home as possible—well, that also eliminates a lot of schools.

Once you have a basic idea of the region you’d like to go to school and what you can afford for tuition, you can narrow down your search by school caliber and comparing your stats (test scores, GPA, etc.) to those of admitted students at a variety of colleges. From there, research major programs and vibe of student life at schools of interest, and before you know it you’ll have a list of schools to apply to that isn’t nearly as daunting in length as it initially was!

by Admit See