Ah, it’s that time of year again. It’s a time when thousands of students flock to College Confidential, US News & World Ranking, and other sources to figure out where they want to apply to college. Most kids will aim high and apply to several reaches with few, if any, safeties. Other students will underestimate themselves and only apply to safety schools, when they could very will apply to reach schools. Most student’s struggle with how to search which colleges to apply to and attend to, but it’s really not that hard.
After applying to 33 colleges myself, I know from first hand that choosing colleges to apply to is a very difficult process. So, here are 5 things that I wish I had known when searching for colleges to apply to that, hopefully, will shed some light on your search:
1. Ranking Does Not Matter
Literally, ranking does not matter. Plain and simple. Do not spend countless hours on US News & World Ranking searching for the highest ranked schools you can apply to. While a degree from Harvard or Princeton has a nice ring to it, at the end of the day, it’s just the name of the school you are paying for. The school you attend does not matter as much as what you do at that school. Just look at the successful people who didn’t even attend highly ranked schools, let alone attend Harvard: Barbara Corcoran
2. Talk About Finances With Your Parents!
This is absolutely essential. When searching for schools, apply to a broad variety. This includes applying to schools that you and your family can afford without financial burden. Talk with them ahead of time to see how much they can contribute, how much you will contribute and any possible scholarships/grants that are available to you. Then, search for schools that offer financial aid packages or are around the cost that will allow for you to attend. The last thing you want to have is get into your dream school and not be able to attend because the price tag is ridiculously high (trust me, it stinks).
3. Location. Location. Location.
Do you imagine attending school in the arctic tundra, the saharan desert or the tropical rainforest? Where do you imagine spending the next 4 years of your life? The city? The south? The west? The possibilities are endless. Make sure that when you search for colleges, you take into consideration the location, student life and campus life. These are all crucial elements in defining your success while in college! If you are city born and raised kid, you might have trouble readjusting to a school deep in the south.
4. School Spirit
This one’s more important than you think. Do you like going to sporting games and cheering for your team? Or do you like just casually hanging out with your peers? Some schools have enormous school spirit and pride, and you will most likely see that all along campus and your college career (cough cough UNC-CH). Some schools, however, don’t really have a sense of school-spirit and lack the community sense. Some people thrive in the former environment, while others in the latter. Pick a school where you can comfortably fit in.
5. College Application Fees are EXPENSIVE!
33 schools. 33 different application fees. The result? A whole lot of money spent! College application fees are continually rising, with the averages anywhere between $60-$80! Make sure you pick a good list of schools to apply to, including a few safeties, several matches, and a few reaches. Don’t go overboard like me, though (unless you want to). College application fees are expensive, and you could very well use that money to pay for your tuition!