How To Make Your FINAL College List

Dear College Made Simple Reader,
Deciding where to go to college is a lot easier when you know what’s out there.

Of course there’s no lack of supply – with more than 2,300 four-year colleges and universities in the U.S.

So knowing where to start is key to the whole process – including how to quickly narrow your choices down to a manageable number. Keep reading to learn more…


How To Make Your College List

1. Go where your interests lie.

We’ve found that often times the best school for a student isn’t always the obvious one. In fact many students forget to look at the specifics of a school, as they get lost in the overall reputation and collegiate ranks.

Some great schools are poor in particular fields, while some second-tier schools are tremendous in certain areas.

If you have a good idea what you want to study, focus on schools that are exceptional in that subject. Often, it’s not one you’re familiar with.

2. Look Beyond the Name.

Ivy leagues and a few other top tier universities will always get top billing.

But you can’t always judge a school solely by its reputation. With some minor variances, you may not find much distance between the #1 and the #100 school in the U.S. World and News Report college list.

The quality will be excellent at all of them. The feel of each, however, can vary wildly. Make sure you aren’t paying too much attention to a school’s reputation and instead, focus on its ‘fit.’


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3. Do Your Research

These days, there is a massive amount of information available online. Nothing can replace a college visit – but, as you’re weeding down to your favorite colleges, you can learn a lot about different universities with minimal effort.

Go to the college’s official website. Search for the news for good and bad stories. Check out the college’s schedule of events, and see what’s happening around a college’s town. See what kind of extracurricular groups are active.

Some colleges even have reach-out programs, allowing prospective students to chat via email with current students. If one of your colleges has that option – take it.

Not only will you get a feel for what life may be like on campus – you’ll also know what spots you’ll want to visit when you’re touring a university.

4. Don’t Worry Too Much About Money… Yet

First, decide on your favorite colleges. After, you can figure out if you can afford it. There are so many scholarships, grants, and work-study opportunities available, the sticker price of a school – more often then not – isn’t what you end up paying.

It’s not unusual for the more ‘expensive’ school to wind up being the cheaper option, thanks to a larger endowment and, hence, more grants.

As you’re beginning your college hunt, keep this checklist in mind. Follow it, and you’re in a better position to end up at a school that’s a great fit for you.

To your college admissions and funding success,

Scott Weingold
Co-founder, College Planning Network, LLC

College Made Simple – The Free Educational Resource of College Planning Network, LLC

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