Selecting a college or university requires work. How can you figure out which school is for you? There are some important things to consider when you decide where to apply for and enroll in college. By taking the time to think about these things now, you'll be able to focus on what really matters to you and find the fit that's right.
1. Size: Colleges come in all sizes, from a school in California that enrolls only 26 students to schools like University of Illinois, which can enroll 30,000 or more. Which one is better? Well, that depends on you and what you're comfortable with. Did you go to a small high school or a large one? Did you like the size of your high school? Do you like being places where everybody knows you, or do you like the anonymity of a crowd?
2. Type: All colleges are not the same. Some enroll only undergraduates and focus their attention on teaching and learning. Others have large graduate programs and devote much of their time and resources to research. Some schools have a specialty in one specific area, like engineering or writing, while others are best known for giving their students a broad education. Other differences include whether schools are single sex or coed, if they have a religious affiliation, and whether they are public or private. The options really are almost limitless.
3. Location There are colleges in every living environment you can imagine. If you have always lived in the suburbs, choosing an urban campus can be an adventure. On the other hand, if you are used to the suburbs and mall life and choose a college in a rural area, will you look for noise, lights, and people? Think about where you grew up and how much of a change you want from that when you go to college.
4. Distance from Home Closely tied to location is the issue of how far from home you want to be. For some people, going to college is a chance to explore a totally different part of the country. For others, they want to make sure they can have dinner with their family once a week, or go home to do their laundry. When you decide how far you want to be from home, think about how likely you are to get homesick, and how much money you can afford to spend in travel. The farther you are from home, the less often you'll be able to visit. On the other hand, with email and cell phones, you can still feel close to home.
5. Cost/Scholarships & Financial Aid Cost is one thing that most parents think about when the topic of college comes up, but not all colleges cost the same amount. Public universities often offer much lower tuition rates to in-state students, but their fees to out-of-state residents are usually pretty similar to private schools. Private institutions charge everyone the same high tuition, but they often have privately-funded scholarship monies available, so it's worth applying to them even if the price tag seems too high.
6. Student Population All college students are not the same. Some schools, particularly large schools and those in big cities, tend to have students from a wide range of ethnic, socioeconomic, and religious backgrounds. Other schools, especially small schools and those in very rural locations, tend to have similar student body’s. Other things to think about in student population is whether most students live at the school or commute, how old the average student is, and how many students are in the Greek system, if there is one.
7. Majors and Requirements If you know what field you want to go into after college, it's important to make sure you go to college somewhere that will prepare you for your chosen profession. Some schools are particularly well-known for a specific major. Going to one of these schools will put you in a great position to get a job in that area when you graduate. If, however, like many entering freshman, you're not so sure what you want to do, you should choose a school that will give you plenty of options.
8. Activities and Special Programs Have you always wanted to try living in another country? Some colleges have programs that allow you to study in another country for a semester or even a whole school year. You'll usually get full credit for your work overseas, plus have the chance to learn a new language, make some new friends, and try some new food. Or maybe you're a dancer or a journalist. You'll want to make sure you go to a school that not only fulfills your academic goals, but your personal ones, too. Some schools have great arts and theater programs, or excellent newspapers, giving students a chance to be involved in extra-curricular activities outside their majors. Other schools focus all their attention on great classes, but not much else.
9. Your Gut Feeling Trust your instincts. If a place feels right, that's important. Similarly, if it just feels wrong, it probably is. College is a very personal choice, and after considering all the other objective factors, the fact of the matter is that it comes down to you. Visit colleges you're interested in, and see how you feel walking around their campuses. Could you imagine yourself going to school there? Once you find a few places that you like, you'll be well on your way to finding the college that's right for you.
COLLEGE NUMBERS YOU NEED
"And research shows that good decisions lead to happy college students: one study of Indiana high schoolers found that those who spent more time investigating college options made the best choices and were the most content during their undergraduate years." - (U.S. News and World Report, Sept. 11, 2000)
What should I do now?
What should I do now?
Visit Petersons.com (formerly StudentEdge)
Do a College/Tech School Search
Fill out a request for a college appointment and meet with your counselor
Determine a list of three to eight schools to explore
Explore on the interent
Attend college visits in Bartlett Career Center
Visit/Call an Admissions Office to Set Up:
Visit/Call an Admissions Office to Set Up:
An official campus tour
A meeting with admissions and financial aid officers
A meeting with an instructor in your area of interest
Interviews with current students
After your visit:
Take notes and write down your thoughts about your experience on campus.
Letters of Recommendation: allow at least two weeks for counselors or teachers to write these letters.
Apply Early: Colleges and Universities observe their deadlines. DO NOT wait until the last minute to begin applying.
Early Decision/Early Action deadlines are usually Nov. 1, Nov. 15, or Dec. 1. Students applying to selective universities
have a greater chance of being admitted if they apply early.
Use Career Cruising to help determine areas of interest: possible careers, college majors, etc.
Check out how much and what kind of education is needed.
PLAN and ACT results include your career inventory. Compare them to Career Cruising.
Make an appointment with your counselor/career specialist.
Consider a job shadow opportunity.
Talk to parents, relatives and friend's parents about their careers.
College Admission Testing
What students can do to maximize their performance on standardized tests:
- Get a good night of sleep the evening before the test.
- Eat a healthy and nutritious breakfast. Most testing centers forbid any food or drink in the room and only provide one 10-minute break.
- Relax. Remember the ACT and SAT can always be retaken. Colleges understand that many students take these exams two or three times.
- Read all instructions carefully before the test begins. Don't waste test time reading them at a later time.
- Pace yourself. Most people have enough time to answer all of the questions. Answer the "easy" questions first and then go back and answer the more difficult ones.
- There is a difference between guessing on the ACT and the SAT: For the ACT, your scores are based on the number of correct questions you have, so it is to your advantage to answer every question. For the SAT, you don't have to answer each question correctly to receive a good score. If you have no idea of an answer, perhaps you should not answer the question and move on. On the other hand, if you can eliminate an answer or two, your chances of being correct just increased, and you may wish to answer the question.
- If you make a mistake, erase completely. Extra marks on your answer sheet will most likely affect your scores.
- Review your work if you finish early to see if you missed any questions or double marked an answer.
- The SAT and ACT tests have penalties if you work on a different section than the one being tested so don't do it. Your scores will be voided and you won't get your money back.
Procedures for Applying to a Four Year College or University
- Obtain an application for the College or University of your choice. Many Colleges and Universities now offer online applications to make this process easier and more expedient. Some applications may be available in the Guidance Office.
- If you have completed a paper application, return it, along with a self-addressed stamped business envelope, any necessary recommendations and the application fee to your counselor. Fees range from $20.00 to $100.00. If you have completed an online application, there may be a counselor recommendation that you need to print out and bring to your counselor. Otherwise, let your counselor know what school you've applied to online and make sure you have submitted all the necessary information.
- Obtain a Transcript Release Form from the Guidance Office.
- Fill out the Transcript Release Form and return it to your counselor.
- If you are submitting a paper application, your counselor will check over the information, sign the application and turn over the entire packet (application, check, recommendations, transcript request form, and stamped envelope) to the Bartlett High School Registrar. If you are applying online, your counselor will make sure you have submitted the necessary information and turn over the remaining submissions (recommendations, transcript request form, etc.) to the Bartlett High School Registrar.
- Bartlett High School registrar will mail your application and transcript on the following Tuesday or Friday.
- After you graduate, you must ask the Registrar, in writing, if you wish to submit a final transcript to a College or University.