College Plan Timeline:
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Compare and contrast schools, attend college fairs, refine your college list.
It’s time to get heart-attack-serious about your college search.
Right now you probably just have a big list of colleges that kind of interest you. Your next step is to narrow down the list to schools that fit your academic, geographical, social, and financial needs – basically a list of schools that really interest you.
Earlier in the year you defined your college preferences and used the Campus Explorer search tool to find schools that fit those preferences. Have your preferences changed? That’s okay. In fact it’s probably a good sign; it means you have been thinking a lot about your options. If they have changed, or your memory is a little spotty, perform another search now.
Once you’ve altered your college list accordingly, you can be more proactive about narrowing your options.
Compare and contrast your prospective colleges.
It’s tough to compare schools based on college websites and word of mouth. By using the Campus Explorer school comparison tool, you can compare your prospective colleges by:
- School Type
- Programs Offered
- Acceptance Rate
- Average SAT and ACT Scores
- Male/Female Population
- % of Students Receiving Financial Aid
Attend College Fairs and Open Houses
While college fairs and open houses don’t sound as interesting as winter vacation and homecoming, these events, unlike websites and course catalogues, allow you to ask specific questions to college representatives who know what they’re talking about. Plus they can help you form important networking connections with school affiliates that might help you get in come application time.
Plus these functions give you the opportunity to take home information on admissions, financial aid, and course offerings while you rub elbows with other college-hunters.
Organize Your College List
After you’ve compared your colleges and finished elbow-rubbing, it’s time to narrow your official college list.
Some tips on trimming down your list:
- When comparing, if you find two colleges that are similar but one is just a little bit better in many ways, cross the inferior school off your list.
- Be honest with yourself. If you know there’s no way you’ll ever go to the Minnesota Technical Institute of Magic and Architecture, snip it from your list.
- Identify 2-3 “safety schools” and 2-3 “reach schools.” “Safety schools” are schools you’ll almost certainly get into. “Reach schools” are schools you’ll most likely get denied from. This process will give you something to shoot for and something to fall back on.
- When you’ve completed your new and improved college list, hop back on to Campus Explorer and update your saved colleges. Delete schools you’ve ruled out and add new ones.
- If you have outside info on colleges you’d like to save – academic research, financial aid info, campus life stats – create folders for each college based on your college organizational system and file everything away for later use.
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