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Choosing A College: Guidance For The High School Grad

Aug 17, 2007
As the high school year comes to a close, many students may be turning their thoughts to summer jobs and vacations, but others look beyond such short term endeavors and on to the long term: college. One of most difficult decisions a student will face-Which college best suits me?

Some teens may be lucky enough to reap advice from current college students or recent college grads. However many college-bound kids are left guidance-less. How does a student begin the choosing process?

Students should consider a list of factors. Would a two- or a four-year college suit the student best? How far from home are they willing to move?

The community and surroundings of the college (urban, rural or suburban) and its religious affiliation may also be important factors. Students should also consider college accreditation, but should be wary of focusing on only ivy league schools.

Students should also be conscious of what types of clubs and sports they wish their college to offer. Looking back on in which high school activities the student was involved can help identify which activities are important to be offered by the college.

Also, the student should think about whether or not it is important to attend a school with some form of division I sports team or the chance to participate in intramural sports.

It is important that the student also think about the academic options within the college. Student has a specific major in mind should only keep in mind colleges that offer that major.

Other factors that play into college selection are the requirements for entry into that college. Average test scores, GPA and class rank should be reviewed to ensure the standards of the school are not too low but can by met by the student. Special application requirements such as participation in extracurricular activities should be looked at as well.

After finding a small list of colleges that meet the student's needs and preferences, the student and parents should look into how to pay for the college. The estimated cost of the school should be taken into consideration, including the cost of tuition, room, board and travel.

Besides relying on funds from parents, the student should also look into the financial aid opportunities offered by the school and for what reasons (need, academic, athletic) such financial aid opportunities are offered.

If a student is still finding it difficult to find a college that meets his or her needs, college search sites can be helpful in narrowing down the choices. Many sites have college search calculators that take into account the many factors listed above. From such searches a student can compile a list of colleges that meet requirements, look through the list, and pick a few colleges that are well-suited for him or her.

Besides online searches, students should also pay attention to college mail they receive and respond to the colleges that spark their interests. If a college of interest does not send the student information then the student should contact the college and request information. Such contact information can be found on a college's website.

Another great way to become more familiar with a college is to virtually visit the college through the college's website. Most sites provide areas for prospective students to attend virtual tours of campus. There may also be opportunities for the students to hear from students who attend the college.

Students should also talk to friends and family members about their college experiences and keep in mind what made a different in each college graduate's college education.

After a list of between three and ten colleges has been compiled, the student should immediately begin applying or requesting information from the colleges depending on how soon the student will be attending college. It is important for the student to have at least three college choices, one being a "back up" college to which the student is sure they will be accepted. Once applications are sent, the student has only to wait, relax and enjoy the summer!
About the Author
Charlotte Beulow is a contributing writer for Access My Library. AccessMyLibrary.com is a service of Thomson Gale. Best known for its accurate and authoritative reference content as well as its intelligent organization of full-text magazine and newspaper articles, the company creates and maintains more than 600 databases that are published online, in print, as eBooks and in microform. Visit Access My Library
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