The most critical aspect of the college admissions process is finding the right fit between you and colleges. The first step is to identify your strengths, preferences and values. What are you truly passionate about? What do you like to do in your free time? Do you like going into the city? Do you prefer studying in a classroom or getting real-world experience?
The next step is to research colleges online before you even visit. Explore different colleges and find which type fits best with your unique needs and goals. The size of a college is a major factor. Smaller colleges often offer more mentoring and advising, smaller class sizes that are more discussion-based, and closer relationships with faculty. Larger colleges provide more choices of classes, activities and students.
Each college has a unique academic approach: Does the college offer a liberal arts or pre-professional curriculum? Is there a major or minor in your fields of interest? Are you interested in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math? Are the distribution requirements flexible? Do a large percentage of students study abroad? Is there access to internships and research?
For many students, extracurricular activities play a major role in the college experience. Do you want to participate in athletics – varsity, club or intramural? Are you passionate about creative and performing arts? Do you want to have access to a lot of community service opportunities?
Finally, just as your family has its own culture and you have your own personal values, colleges each have a unique culture. How diverse is the student population? Does the college have a strong sense of community? Is there an active “Greek Life” scene? What do students do on Saturday nights?
Sophomores and juniors: Begin researching colleges, using reference books and online sources. Attend local information sessions and college fairs. After this preliminary research, you can determine which schools you are most interested in and schedule college visits! For guidance, contact www.collegiategateway.com.