Advice on the College Search
Kiyo Gomi '12 says:Make a list about what you're interested in, and keep adding things you are fascinated by until you can't think of anything more. If your list seems long, look at Liberal Arts schools.
Any advice for high school students on their college search? Ben Bedore '13 says:Apply early, and often. Make sure that you visit the schools you're considering. Try to get a sense of how the campus feels and ask yourself if you could grow and learn in that environment. And make sure you enjoy your senior year of high school along the way.
Anna Chance '15 says:Listen to your parents, listen to your peers, listen to your counselor—but also listen to yourself. If you find a school that fits YOU, then follow that intuition. I was hard-pressed to go to Vassar or Cornell by my family—and, even though they are great institutions, they were not the right fit for me.
Any advice for high school students on their college search? Colin MacArthur '12 says:Visit everywhere you might go and stay overnight. The overnight stay, although it takes the most courage, is the most important. It gives you the best feel for what the students are like, what the food's like, what it's like to live at a place.
Peter Schlesinger '12 says:When visiting schools, don't get nervous if you don't find that One perfect school for you. If none of your schools say "YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO ATTEND ME!" That's probably because you'd be happy at many places. What's important is finding the little things - the quirks - that set one small liberal arts college (or one huge university) apart from another.
The Admissions Office says:
The sheer number of college choices can be overwhelming! Most high school students, in consultation with parents and guidance counselors, start to narrow it down by identifying the factors that are most important to them. These may include:
- Size. Do you thrive on small, intimate settings where you can get to know everyone by name, or do you love the energy of a big place where there are always new faces? Are you happiest in large classes or small ones? How important is it to you to have a lot of individual interaction with your professors? Are you interested in an academic program that's generally only available at larger institutions?
- Location. Are you hoping to stay close to home, or are you interested in trying a new part of the state, country, or world? Do you love big cities or small towns? Are there certain kinds of cultural opportunities or outdoor recreation that you can't live without during your college years?
- Academic programs. If you're convinced you know what you want to study, you can start researching the colleges known to have a particularly strong program and outstanding faculty in that area. If you are undecided, have eclectic academic interests, or just want to keep your options open, you'll probably want to look for schools with a broad range of programs that you can sample in your freshman year.
- Extracurricular activities. Some colleges are especially well known for the quality of their extracurricular opportunities in music, theater, athletics, etc. If there's a student activity or organization that's especially important to you, you'll want to make sure that prospective colleges offer you ample chances to pursue it.
- Cost. This is an important factor on almost everyone's list. However, be sure that you don't evaluate colleges solely on "sticker price." It's a popular misconception that only the rich can afford to attend the most selective colleges. In fact, many leading colleges are committed to making a first-class education affordable to outstanding students from all economic backgrounds. If your favorite college is expensive, don't rule it out until you learn what kind of of financial aid package they could offer you.
- Personality. Although it's probably the hardest to define, the unique character of a college can be a key factor in whether you'll be happy there. It's that indescribable something that says to you, "This is my kind of place." Campus visits are probably your best bet for finding the right fit, although off-campus conversations with alumni and current students can also help.
Your own checklist will be as individual as you are, of course. But your sophomore and junior years in high school are a great time to fine-tune your criteria so you can start going to college fairs and campus visits with some very specific questions in mind.