It took me such a long time to figure out what colleges to apply to. There are hundreds and hundreds of colleges, in the U.S. alone. I wanted to look at schools both in the US and the rest of the World.
You really shouldn’t apply to more than 10 schools, it’s a waste of time. Know what you want better than that. You are smart enough to go to college, so you’re capable of knowing what’s best for you. You should apply to more than 2 schools unless there are family or financial reasons that you need to stay in a certain location. In that case, unless you are looking at online schools, which this blog isn’t really geared towards, then you know what schools you can apply to, and don’t need to read this.
A Guideline: There are good reasons to go to every school. However, in the end, any school I didn’t want to go to even the littlest bit I couldn’t get myself comfortable with applying there. I’m talking about reasons you really do not want to go to a particular school. If you don’t want to go there for normal reasons, like having to make new friends or being away from family, those can be overcome. However, if the school is large and you want small, or in the desert and you want the coast, don’t force it.
First, start with the knowledge you have. What resources do you have? What colleges are you already interested in? What colleges do you not want to go to? For me, I didn’t have a good traditional guidance counselor. The only resource I had was the internet.
College Board has a search feature, you can set the size of the school, location and some other things like that.
Cappex and Niche have some good resources such as a similar schools list, ratings by past students and a computer generated rating of how you’ll fit in at a school.
Back in August when it was time (for me) to start getting serious about my applications, I wrote down all the schools I could think I might want to go to. I had a long list. From there I would take four schools at a time and compare them on one or two of the websites I just mentioned. I also looked at each school’s website although those don’t always have a lot of information available to prospective students, which says something of the school.
I repeated this process until I had about eight or ten schools. I took that list and talked about it with family and friends. I narrowed it down to six, which was my goal. I quickly knocked one off, I don’t even remember what it was. Later I knocked another off and added another one, it was October by this point.
I applied to Meredith Early Action. Richmond (the American International Univserity in London) and Flagler were both rolling admissions. I was accepted to all these schools by Christmas . I also applied regular decision to University of Chicago and George Washington University. These are my “reach” schools and I will not hear from them till March.
Extra things I should mention:
College Express and College Week Live are websites I didn’t especially find helpful but sometime would take a look at.
It is important to be on the Universities’ prospective students mailing list. It doesn’t only show you’re interested in the school by signing up but it also helps you gauge what kind of school they are.
I really hope this helped you in your journey from highschool to university. I plan to write some more posts on this topic as I experience it. If you have a specific question regarding the general college application process then leave a comment or use the contact form. 🙂