Higher education is expensive and requires a large investment of both time and money. As you decide what you want from college, it is important to give thoughtful and careful consideration to your career goals and the best way to reach them. Below are some tips to consider as you begin your college search.
Compiling a List through Self-Examination
Begin by determing your strengths, weaknesses, expectations, and goals. After completing your self-evaluation, consider the characteristics you require in a college and determine their importance to you. Consult your counselor, printed materials in the guidance office, and online programs for more detailed information on the colleges you are considering. Develop a list of schools you would like to consider more closely.
When selecting colleges, you may wish to divide your choices into three categories: Reaching, Average for Me, and Secure.
- Reaching: This college's entrance standards may seem a cut above your qualifications. The college mean rank will be in the fifth above yours and the mean SAT scores will be 40 to 100 points higher than yours. Factors other than academic record that may affect changes for admission could include an unusually strong letter of recommendation, your essay or statement of purpose, the high school reputation, a parent who is an alumnus, or extracurricular activities.
- Average for Me: This should be a realistic choice of a college, one which has admissions criteria corresponding closely to your credentials. The mean rank and yours should be in the same fifth and your SAT scores should be within 40 points of those given as the mean by the college.
- Secure or "Safety: This is a college with an admissions policy clearly making you acceptable with a margin to spare. Choose the college with care as you might go there; this may include a community and/or junior college.
The best way to learn more about a college is to visit the campus before applying. If possible, plan to visit a college during the academic year, when students are in residence and classes are in session. Many colleges schedule regular campus tours conducted by student representatives. Some colleges will also arrange for you to spend the night in student housing if you write or phone in advance. If you plan to combine your campus visit with an admissions interview, be sure to contact the admission's office and set up an appointment before you arrive.
Juniors and seniors are allowed up to five days of excused absences for college visitations. At least one day prior to a college visit, students should submit a parent note to the attendance secretary with designated date, time, and college name. The student will then receive a verification letter which can be signed by college personnel. This verification should be presented to the attendance secretary upon return to be designated an excused absence.
Meeting with College Representatives at Cedar Cliff
Each year many representatives of colleges visit Cedar Cliff High School. The visits are announced via the public address system. It is necessary to sign up in the Guidance Office and obtain a pass in order to attend. These meetings allow students to learn a great deal about many different kinds of colleges. It is yet another great opportunity to get questions answered and gain assistance in the college selection process. Students are responsible for any classroom work missed while attending the conference.
A student's college choice must be made sincerely and realistically. Examine the advantages and disadvantages of each college. Weigh the strengths and weaknesses to find the college most likely to meet your needs. Once you have narrowed the number of colleges, you will be ready to begin the process of applying for admission and financial aid.