The question is not “which is the best college?” but, rather “which is the best college for me?”
STEP 1 Seek out personal recommendations. Speak to those around you; counselors, teachers, family friends, and yes, even parents. Make note of their recommendations but, don’t assume they will give you the answers. Research for yourself to discover what is important to you.
STEP 2 Focus on your academic goals. What do you really want in an education? Pre-Professional Education– prepares for specific job, ie: engineering, pre-med. = DEPTH. Liberal Arts Education – equips you with general knowledge and reasoning skills suitable for many jobs = BREADTH. How does the college rank in the major you want to study? Majoring in a narrow field? Consider a larger university.
STEP 3 Don’t forget to ask about the social life. The Greek system? What do students do on the weekends? Extra-curricular activities? Close to a major city, skiing, beach? Campus life associations, service clubs and ROTC? If you don’t like the social scene, you won’t be happy at the school.
STEP 4 Investigate the type of digs you’ll be living in. Think of yourself as a total person, not just a student. Find a place to live that suits you. Do most students live on campus? Can you live with strangers? How modern or ancient are the dorms? Does each room have its own bathroom, or do you share? With overcrowding, ask what your chances are of getting on-campus housing.
STEP 5 Snuggle up with a college directory. Look in a book or on a website that profiles colleges. Student population, activities, costs and financial aid How many freshmen are admitted each year Directories won’t tell you about the personality of the college. Talk to people who go to that college: alumni, recruiters, current students. Great Website http://www.collegeboard.com/student/index.html?student http://www.collegeboard.com/student/index.html?student
STEP 6 Attend a college fair or talk to the college rep. Western Slope College Fair – Aspen High School Sunday, Oct. 3 11am to 2pm. Bus available from FMHS-sign up in counseling office To make a life changing choice talk to real people first. Take a list of questions with you – Don’t be shy, that is why they are there. Make business cards to introduce yourself to college Reps.
STEP 7 Beware of the college brochure Brochures are biased and will tout only the positives. Always view the college’s brochure with a healthy dose of caution. Compare brochures from various colleges. Brochures can help you develop questions to ask reps. NEVER ATTEND A COLLEGE YOU HAVEN’T VISITED FIRST!!!
STEP 8 Don’t rely on news magazine rankings. Use the rankings as a guide, but definitely do your own research. Include news magazine rankings in your beginning research. Rankings might help you pose questions to college reps. Start an organization system for your brochures, etc…
$$$ Private Education at a Discount Price $$$ Many schools have replaced need-based loans with grants. Harvard University made tuition free for families making less than $60,000 a year. At least 17 other private institutions including Stanford and Columbia work with families making $40K to $100K per year. http://www.walletpop.com/loans/kiplingers/best-private-college- values/ Some private schools have initiatives which match public school tuition www.naicu.edu/special_initiatives/afordability/aboutwww.naicu.edu/special_initiatives/afordability/about Colleges that Change Lives - Small private liberal arts colleges that offer a 1 st rate education at reasonable prices. www.ctcl.orgwww.ctcl.org
Final Thoughts… Exploration leads to discoveries about yourself. Ultimately pick schools that meet your needs. ???