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College Search: Researching Schools

It's Time to Surf (the Web)
The Internet is a great resource and can save you a lot of time, legwork, and money. You can use it to search for colleges based on several characteristics, take virtual college tours, request college information, and much more. Here are a few of our favorite web resources, but check the Helpful Resources section at the end of this book for more ideas:
  • www.CollegeBoard.org has a tool to help you make quick, side-by-side comparisons of two or three colleges, as well as a tool for comparing financial aid awards.
  • www.WiredScholar.com lets you search for colleges using several criteria and also has many useful checklists that you can print out and use.
It's also helpful to check out the websites of the colleges you're considering. Here's some information that you can find there:
  • History of the school
  • Mission of the school
  • Majors offered
  • How and when to apply
  • How many students apply and how many are accepted
  • Stats on accepted students (class rank, GPA, etc.)
  • Stats on student body (ethnicity, religion, gender, etc.)
  • Financial aid statistics
  • Online/printable applications
  • Housing options
  • Dining facilities
  • Clubs and organizations
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Sports
  • Academic calendar
  • Map of campus
  • Campus tours
  • Visual images of campus
  • Virtual tours
Don't (Always) Neglect Your Parents
Parents can be great resources. You can bounce ideas off them because they know you really well and have your best interests at heart. They're great for practical stuff, too, because they've probably been through the college search process before--even though it was quite some time ago.

My parents helped keep me organized. During senior year you have all this stuff going on and it's really easy to lose track of where you are in the college process. My parents kept me on track and reminded me about where I needed to be.

Vassar College

Keep Good Notes
Keeping good notes as you plow through tons of college information will make your life a lot easier. If you spend a couple of hours reading up on a school, write down any important points you'd like to remember. After you've read up on several schools they may start to blend together.

Don't let pieces of paper scribbled with website addresses and phone numbers pile up. Put them in the files of the appropriate schools so that you can find them easily. In your own books, catalogs, and other printed materials, underlining or highlighting important information and then flagging the page with a Post-it note is a great way to help you find information quickly when you need it.

Keep your ideal college profile nearby as you research colleges and refer to it from time to time to see if any of your priorities have changed. Don't feel like you have to stick to your original requirements--the purpose of all of this research is to learn more about what you need in a college, and if that changes, that's totally fine.

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From Choose the Right College and Get Accepted: How to Choose the Right College and Get in to Your Dream School by Students Helping Students. Copyright © 2005. Used by arrangement with Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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