Starting to build your college list can be very confusing. How do you know what colleges should go on the list? How many colleges should be on your list? Many students will create a list of colleges based on their name recognition. I highly discourage this because although the college name may be recognizable, it may not be a good fit for you.
So, how do you compile a good college list for you? I’ve come up with a list of things to do that will help you compile a college list that is just for you.
1.Get to know yourself.
That’s right, you need to know what you’re looking for in a college. You need to think about what you want in a college. Some key factors to consider include:
What locations are you willing to consider? Are you open to anywhere in the country? Or, are there only specific states that you’d consider? Or, do you only want to be a certain amount of miles from your home?
Do you want a college that is in an urban, suburban or rural setting?
What majors are you considering? If you don’t know exactly what you want to do, are their subjects that you lean towards? If there are multiple areas of interest, I encourage students to find colleges that offer all of the areas you are interested in studying.
Are there specific extracurricular activities that are important to you and you want to participate in at college?
Do you want to be a college athlete and compete competitively for the college? What division do you want to consider? NCAA Division 1, Division 2, or Division 3? What about NAIA? If you don’t want to participate competitively, do you want to play in a specific intramural sport?
Do you want to attend a religiously affiliated college? Or, do you want to stay away from religiously affiliated colleges? Or, you don’t mind either way?
Student Population Size
Do you want to go to a college that is the size of your high school? Or, do you want to attend a college that is the size of a city? Or, somewhere in the middle?
Take time and think about your preferences. College is at least four years of your life and you want to make sure that you make the right choice the first time around.
2. Compiling the BIG List.
After you get to know yourself and what you’re looking for in a college, you can start doing your initial research. This list can be quite large depending on your preferences, and that is okay. There are a few good tools when creating the first draft of your list:
Talk to your high school guidance counselor and/or an independent college counselor. College counselors have a lot of knowledge about colleges and can provide recommendations.
College Search Websites
There are many websites available that allow you to plug in your preferences and then you will get a list of colleges that meet your criteria.
Now that you have your list, start researching the colleges on your list. As you start researching, you’ll find things that make you like the colleges more. And, sometimes, you’ll find things that make you dislike the college. Take notes and keep editing your college list as you discover more information.
4. Keep Reviewing and Changing Your List
As you learn more and more about colleges on your list, make changes to your list until you can narrow it down to approximately six to ten colleges. These will be the colleges that you will apply for admission. I recommend that students have a few types of colleges on their list:
Remember, your list is going to continue changing, and that is okay. You want to make sure that you thoroughly research all of the colleges on your list because you want to find the right fit for you. Remember: what might be a perfect fit for your best friend, may not be a good fit for you. Therefore, do your research – you won’t regret it!
If you have any questions about building a college list, please contact me. I would be happy to hear from you!
One of the first steps in the college admissions process is attending the college fair. Many colleges can seem cool and interesting, but not all of them will be for you. The college fair is a great opportunity to start making your interest list and/or taking colleges off your list. It’s a lot like window shopping – no commitments, just learning more and figuring out what you want (or don’t want).
Some college fairs will have a few hundred colleges attending. This, itself, can be very intimidating. But, preparing before the fair can take some of the intimidation factor away. After you’ve figured out what colleges you will talk to, what will you say or ask?
Before attending any fair, write down some questions that you want to ask the college representatives. Ask questions that are important to you. Below is a sample list of questions you can ask the college representatives to learn more about the college.
First, things first, make a good first impression. Extend your hand to the college representative and introduce yourself.
The above are questions that most students should ask when talking to a college representative. After that, you should ask questions about things that are important to you. This can include information about a specific extracurricular activity, study abroad, fitness center on campus, etc. Ask your questions. Remember, you are the shopper and need to have your questions answered. This is your opportunity to ask your questions to a person face-to-face.
Lastly, get the business card of the Admission Counselor that works with students where you live. Keep in touch and ask questions as you have them about the college. Not only will you be getting your questions answered by a person, you’ll continue a good rapport with someone that will probably be making the decision on your application. This, in the long run, can help when they make a decision on your application.
Have fun at the college fair. I hope that the above questions can make the college fair feel a little less intimidating for you!
On a quick weekend getaway with my family, I decided to stop by the California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) campus. I had never visited this campus before, so it was a must see.
CSUMB is located in the city of Seaside, California. The campus is approximately ten minutes North of Monterey – the city where many people might think it is located. It is also located approximately one hour South of San Jose and two hours South of San Francisco. The campus is just minutes away from the beach and the students on campus take advantage of this – while there, I noticed a few students drying out their wetsuits from the windows of the dorm rooms.
The CSUMB campus is very unique. The school sits on a former Army base named Fort Ord. The campus has a unique blend of new and old. There are classes in the old airplane hangars and barracks, but there are new buildings on campus as well. Many of the residence halls are old office buildings from the base. In addition to being a unique fact, the rooms in the residence halls are much bigger than what might be found at other universities. The old buildings that are being used by the university have been updated. However, there are many unused buildings on campus and in the area that look dilapidated. The university will continue to make changes to the campus, so students that attend the university will be sure to witness changes throughout their time as a student.
The school was founded in 1994, making it one of the youngest CSU campuses. The school is also one of the smaller CSU schools. With just under 6,000 students, the school has the feel that one might find on a small, private university. This makes the campus conducive to quiet studying. There are clubs, activities and sporting events on campus, but nothing too big. I found that this is one of the complaints of students. However, again, this can be used as an advantage if you’re looking for a quiet university (for studying) with the potential of building meaningful friendships because “there’s not much to do here,” as one student told me.
The surrounding community and area is great. The one plus that all of the students I spoke to said was the beaches. The school is literally within walking distance of the Pacific Ocean. Other activities students mentioned were the two California Missions within driving distances and the many hiking trails. The students did say that most things off campus close by ten, but if you’re looking for a more lively area, Cannery Row in Monterey is only a ten-minute drive away. Just off campus is The Dunes Shopping Center. The center has Target, Kohls, Best Buy, REI, Michael’s, Old Navy and Bed Bath & Beyond. There are plans to build up this area and add a movie theatre and restaurants, but no date of completion has been given.
The university currently offers 23 majors. The most popular majors are Business, Psychology and Kinesiology. The university calls itself a residential college. With 85% of first year students living on campus, that is quite a lot, especially for a public university. And, because CSUMB is a state school, students will enjoy in-state tuition. In addition, parking on campus is very cheap. To park on campus for an academic year, it is only $144. Although this might sound like a lot coming from high school, this amount is small compared to other public institutions.
I think California State University, Monterey Bay would be a good fit for students that are looking for a small school where they can make a name for themselves. Because the university is small, students will get to know many of their professors and other students. This school is also good for a student that wants to be focused on their studies because of the small amount of campus activities available. This is also a great place for students that love the beach and the outdoors because of it’s closeness to the ocean
If you’re interested in California State University, Monterey Bay, find out more information and sign up for a campus visit with he CSUMB Admissions Office.
For all of the photos of CSU Monterey Bay, visit Flickr. You’ll be able to find descriptions of all of the photos.
Attending a college fair is an important part of the college admissions process. The college fair is a great opportunity to jump-start your college research. It might be your first opportunity to talk to someone that is affiliated with the colleges you are interested in attending. And, it might open your eyes to other colleges you weren’t even thinking about researching.
Did you know that the impression that you make at the college fair could follow you through the college admissions process? Many colleges keep notes on their applicants. With the acceptance rates going lower and lower at colleges, it is important to make yourself stand out positively to the colleges. This includes making a good impression at the college fair.
As a former Admissions Counselor and Admissions Director, I’ve attended hundreds of fairs. I know what will and WILL NOT impress the person on the other side of the table.
Here is a list of things NOT to do at a college fair:
The college fair is an important part of the college admissions process. To make it a successful fair for you, don’t do any of the things listed above!
Good luck at the fair!