Archive for the ‘College Search’ Category
Attention high school seniors: It’s that time!
You’ve spent the last three years giving up your free time so you could fill in the blanks on your resume with volunteer work, extra curricular activities, and a part time job. You’ve invested countless hours studying so you could make the grades. Now it’s time for all of that hard work to pay off. It’s time to begin your college search! Check out these common mistakes high school students make on their quest to find the perfect college fit!
The biggest mistake you can make in the college search is not searching at all. Perhaps your father, grandfather, and great grandfather all went to the same college, and you just assumed that’s where you should go, too. Maybe your freshmen year, you and your group of friends all decided to go to the same college. Or maybe you picked your own college, but it was in middle school. Do not just go with the flow because you might not like where you’re headed. You need to choose your own direction, or at very least, verify that the direction you’re going is indeed your best option!
Not Spending Enough Time Searching
Deciding where you’ll spend the next four years is not a decision you should make lightly. This is where you’ll be trained in the knowledge that prepares you for your career. This will be where you will eat, sleep, and breath. This is where you’ll make new friends, join clubs, and independently become the person you want to be. Take your time deciding what it is your looking for, and familiarizing yourself with what’s out there. You want to be sure that you’re giving yourself the best opportunities, and that you’re going to choose somewhere you like.
Not Visiting the Campus
One of the biggest and most common mistakes students make is when it comes to choosing where to apply, they often judge a college by the web site, posters, and photographs in college catalogs instead of actually going to see the campus. This is like choosing your friends just by looking at their yearbook pictures! Just like you spend extra time picking out an outfit, a background, a smile, and a hairdo, colleges try extra hard to look good for their pictures, too! You won’t know what a college looks like on a typical day, or what kind of culture is has, until you actually take the time to go there.
Not Using Cappex to Find Your Best College Fit
Unlike our parents’ generation, where colleges were found through college fairs and guidance counselors, we have the internet to make our lives easier! Cappex is a site where you can search for colleges, and colleges can find you as well! By filling out a profile and answering a few questions about what you’re looking for, you can be linked to colleges all over the country that best match your interests and preferences! You can even find out your chances of being accepted!
For even more info about making your search as thorough as possible, check out this edition of Cappex White Board Friday in which Bobby highlights the Top 3 College Search Mistakes students make.
Note: If you missed part one of this series, see Finding Your Perfect College Match: Location.
Universities have a lot to offer, and there are many aspects of the college experience that have to come together in order for you to find your perfect college match. As a high school senior researching potential colleges, finding a match in three main areas will help you make sure you get everything you’re looking for.
Majors and Courses
Not every university offers classes on every subject, so it is important to take a look at the different schools within each university you are considering and make sure they have your intended course of study. For example, while majors like English or Psychology are generally found at every university, more specialized majors like Engineering or Journalism may not be offered everywhere. As important as a university’s prestige, student body size, and social scene are to finding your ideal college, without your major it won’t be your perfect match because, after all, you’re there to learn!
Depending on your personal interests, some universities will be better matches for you than others. For example, if you are a student and an avid sports fan, a university without a large sports program may not be your perfect match. To some people, there is nothing better than waking up early on Football Saturday and heading to the stadium with friends. Others may not be as interested, and instead be more drawn to universities with thriving arts programs. Finding a match in the culture of the university is as important as finding a degree program that suits your academic interests. Even if the major is a perfect match, if you feel uncomfortable with your university culture and the other students around you, you will not feel fulfilled at the end of your time in college if you didn’t feel that you were happy socially.
Universities are hubs for extensive research, which many students take advantage of while enrolled in classes. Professors run research studies throughout the year on many different topics—ranging from medical to psychological to electronics and everything in between—and look for passionate students to join the team. If the research is successful, you may even have a chance to be published in the study as a research assistant. Getting involved in research is a great way to start building your resume early on and gain hands-on experience in your intended field, and for those students who are interested, is an essential part of finding the perfect match.
Totally lost in your college search process? Visit a college fair. College fairs bring many schools to you at one time. While it might sound overwhelming, these fairs do a great job of making schools come to life. Reading statistics in a hefty college book will only get you so far. Take the time to find a college fair and talk to representatives from different schools. Here is a checklist for you to make the most of this great opportunity!
- Find the college fair. Well, obviously, but if your school doesn’t offer one, there are national fairs that happen on specific weekends in specific cities around the country. Find the one nearest to you!
- Register for the fair. Some of these national fairs require that students register. Not all, but some.
- Print a list of the colleges featured at your fair. Highlight the ones that peak your interest.
- Bring a pen!
- And a notebook.
- And a backpack or bag to hold brochures.
- Make sure you have a working email address. Some colleges will have a newsletter sign-up sheet for you to get more information about the school and its programs.
- Write down questions to ask representatives. Seriously. Do this! If you don’t know what to ask, take a look at Questions to Interview Your Potential College.
- Do not be afraid to attend an informational meeting or question session if it is offered! Even if you don’t know what to ask, hearing other important questions being answered will be beneficial.
- Take notes.
- Take more notes!
- Allow yourself time to visit booths that you didn’t highlight initially. They might surprise you!
When you get home after the fair, look at all the notes you took and brochures you collected. If there are schools that stood out, dig deeper into their websites to see if they are truly a good fit for you. Find colleges on Cappex and browse their profiles to learn more about them. In addition, find out what schools are similar to the ones you’ve collected. All of the colleges and universities available to you cannot possibly be represented in one college fair, so use the fair as a springboard for your search.
The college search process does not have to be frustrating and tedious. It may feel that way at times, but know that there is seldom just one school that suits your needs. There are tons of schools out there that will give you a great education and can make you a happy student!
In your quest to find your perfect college match, you’ve considered your major, the distance it is from home, the number of people from your high school going there, the food, its appearance, the cleanliness of the bathrooms, whether or not you’ll have to take a gym class, and a hundred other pieces of criteria! It’s a big decision, so there’s a lot to think about! Have you considered what college will do the best job at preparing you for your career? Check out these ways you can verify that the college you’re choosing has what it takes to actually get you a job!
The Reputation of the Program
Once you’re sure a college has your major, you’ll want to find out more about the program and its alumni. How popular is this major on campus? What percentage of its graduates are able to find a job in that major? What do the students currently enrolled in the program think? How long has the major existed on campus? Who’s teaching the classes? The more you can find out about your future program online and through the college, the better. If your program has been around for a while, is gaining popularity, and has accomplished individuals teaching new information, that’s a good sign!
The Relevancy of the Program
The job market is different than it was twenty, or even just ten years ago, and with technology constantly changing, you’ll want a program that’s adjusting their coursework so they’re ahead of the game! As an education major, you don’t want to learn the art of overhead transparencies. You want to learn how to use multi-media in the classroom, and how to look for signs of bullying. As a creative writer, you don’t want a heavy emphasis on the classics. You want to learn how to produce and market work in today’s writer’s market! Make sure the school you choose has a program that knows how to adequately prepare students for today. A quick look at the required courses and syllabi are often enough to get a few clues!
The Opportunities Given to You
When looking at a perspective program, look for what the college has to offer that other colleges don’t. What opportunities does this program give you that will better prepare you for a job than other programs? Will you get the chance to create a documentary your sophomore year as a film major? Will you be asked to observe how a classroom is taught your freshman year as an education major? Is there a literary magazine writing majors can help produce? Is there a famous professor with brilliant insights in charge of your program? If you can’t see why getting your program at one college would be better than getting it at another college, then you probably need to keep looking.
Need help finding the best school for your future career? Cappex can help you search for colleges quickly and easily! Make your free online profile today!
So you think you’d like to attend community college before transferring to another college or university! Many students enjoy taking this step. Typically, students who begin their education at a community college save money, as their intro classes are completed for a lower cost than they would be at a college or university. Community college students also enjoy a less dramatic transition as they go from being a high school student to a college student. Community college also gives you the chance to feel out different major possibilities before you ultimately make the decision to declare. But just because you’re attending a community college doesn’t mean the decision on where to go is crystal clear! There might be many community colleges in your area. Check out these tips on how to pick the right one:
Get the 411 On Transfer Credits
Regardless of why you’ve chosen to attend a community college before applying to another college or university, you want your time in school to count. Before choosing a community college, learn more about which courses will transfer. If you know what school you’ll eventually want to attend, find out if your classes will transfer specifically to that school. You don’t want to have to spend more time and money repeating the same courses because your credits didn’t transfer.
Consider Your Future Plan
You might be going to community college so you can knock out your basic coursework quickly before entering a major university where you can focus solely on your program. You could be starting here because you don’t know what you’d like to do, and you don’t want to pay the cost of university tuition to find out. Maybe you think an associates degree in one area and a major in another will help you find a job. Just as if you were searching for a four-year degree program, consider the programs offered at community colleges, and how they can best suit your needs. You’ll find a variety of options, all of which can prepare you for what whatever plan you’d like to pursue!
Consider Your Future Field
While there are community colleges for general areas of study, some focus on particular fields, such as technology or business. If you know you’d like to get into a certain field, and there’s a community college that specializes in that, you’ll probably want to consider starting there!
Consider Whom From High School Will Be There
Community college can sometimes feel like high school, part two. Whether or not that’s a good thing is for you to decide! If a third of your class is attending the closest community college, and you want the opportunity to break away, you may want to try for another college up the road. If like the thought of having all of your friends from high school in the same place again, you’ll probably be very happy attending a college with a high percentage of your graduating class.
Cappex can help you search for community colleges!
As a high school student, the college search process can loom over your head for months because you don’t know where to start. A great place to begin is with your advisor or guidance counselor. They will have insider resources for you and will be able to give you accurate application advice since they will have access to your transcript.
Still bashful about approaching your advisor? Here are some questions to get you started!
Am I on track to graduate?
Your counselor will be able to look at your GPA (grade point average), the classes you have completed, and the ones you still need to take. They’ll be honest with you and outline what courses you still need to complete high school. Find this out sooner rather than later!
What electives or extra curricular activities do colleges appreciate the most?
High school guidance counselors look at college applications and requirements ALL. THE. TIME. They will definitely know what types of activities schools enjoy seeing outside of academic performance.
What is the difference between AP, IB, and Honors classes?
These courses are different, and you could end up graduating with some college credit already tucked away in your back pocket after taking some of them. If your school offers these specialty classes, find out from your counselor if they think it is worth it to take some to increase your chances at particular colleges or universities.
What schools are similar to my current choices?
If you go into your advisor’s office with a few options – schools you are considering or that appeal to you already – he or she should be able to find other schools that are similar. You’ll probably find out about schools you didn’t know existed and be able to give yourself more options come application time.
Are there past students who have gone to my school of choice?
See if your guidance counselor remembers students in the past couple of years who ended up attending the same schools you are considering. It is always very helpful to talk to a current student at your potential university – they will have the inside scoop on what campus life is like. Your counselor may be able to connect you to these students for advice or a visit!
As you begin your college search, you’ll find that there are thousands of colleges, and they’re all remarkably different! You’ll likely find many that could be a good fit, but narrowing them down to the few you’ll actually apply to can be difficult.
Imagine that you’re interviewing your future school for the position of providing you with the best education and college experience possible. The following is a list of questions to “ask” your future school.
Is this a two or four year institution?
Is this a large school or a small school?
What is the average number of people per class at this school?
Is this college in a suburban, urban, or rural environment?
What does the surrounding community have to offer?
What is there to do for fun?
Is this a public or private school?
Is this a same-sex or co-ed school?
Does this school have a religious affiliation?
How much does this school cost?
Does this institution offer scholarships and other financial aid programs?
How far is this school from home?
Is this school in-state or out of state?
What majors does this college offer?
What makes pursuing my major at this school different than another school?
Is this school able to give me a good education?
What benefits does this school have to offer?
What are the meal plans and food like?
Does this school offer extra-curricular activities I’m interested in?
Does this school offer a particular sport I want to play?
Does this school have a sorority, fraternity, or national honor society I want to be a part of?
What are the acceptance rates for this school?
Do I meet the acceptance criteria for this school?
Does this college offer study abroad programs?
How do students get around at this school?
Am I allowed to have a car at school?
What is the transfer rate for this school?
What is the drop out rate for this school?
What percentage of students who attend this college graduate in four years?
What are the students like at this college?
How diverse is this college?
Does this school have enough computer labs, a big library, a pool or a gym?
How many of my high school classmates plan on attending this college?
Will I live on or off campus?
How safe is the college and surrounding community?
What is living on campus like at this college?
How many people share a dorm room at this school?
How many people share a bathroom in the dorms?
Are the residence halls co-ed?
What is this school known for?
Do I like how the school looks?
Is this school up to date on their technology and equipment?
What have the professors in my field of study accomplished?
Could I feel at home here?
Choosing what colleges you’ll apply to is no easy job! There are hundreds of schools in this country, and they’re all different! You may find fifty schools that offer your major, and while you’ll narrow down your selection with questions such as “Is this school too far away?” and “Does this school cost too much?” it’s also important to consider what the chances will be that you’re accepted to these schools. You don’t want to apply to five really tough schools, and find yourself going to none of them, nor do you want to cut yourself short by applying to the places you know you’re guaranteed. You’ll want to apply to one school you’re practically guaranteed acceptance, one or two schools you have a pretty good shot at, and one school you’re taking a chance on.
As it may be difficult to decipher where you’ll be accepted, Cappex can help you determine your chance of acceptance at any college or university with the “What Are My Chances” calculator. This tool will show you if your chance of acceptance is low, medium, or high. You can also look at admission trends, which will show you what kinds of students are accepted and denied to these colleges. With this information, you can make the best guess as to what schools will make the most sense for you to apply!
When choosing where to apply, here are some more questions you may want to ask yourself:
What are the average SAT and ACT scores of accepted students, and do I fall above or below that mark?
If your test scores fall in the average or above slot for this school, your chances of being accepted are better; however, just because you meet the average test score doesn’t mean you’ll be accepted, and many will find their below-average test score won’t prevent them from getting in.
What is my GPA? Is it above or below the average for accepted students?
Similarly to test scores, you’ll have a better chance of acceptance if your grades are average or above for that school; however, your GPA isn’t the only criteria admissions departments consider. If you fall below the average, you may want to apply anyway!
What is this school looking for in their students? Am I that type of student?
Just as you look for a college that will be a good fit, colleges look for students who will be a good fit.
What would I be able to offer this school? Do I have any talents, knowledge, or experience that will make this school want me?
For those students who are exceptionally great at a sport, or have won a variety of awards in a given subject, it certainly doesn’t hurt to apply to schools that value those areas.
What can this school offer me?
If you’re able to articulate why you’re choosing a particular school, you’ll have a better chance of acceptance than if you’re unsure. Also, even though some schools may be on your list of “safety schools,” don’t be dismissive of what they can offer. A “back-up” school attitude on your part during the application process may lead to a rude awakening!
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