Your choice of college or university is a decision that should not be taken lightly.
Although there are some studies which indicate that your choice of school does not necessarily affect your ability to earn more in the future, getting into top colleges and universities can influence your success later in life.
Before making a choice
Many high school students have already made a shortlist of possible schools even before the time for application rolls in. Some base their choices on the prestige of the schools. Others choose colleges and universities based upon the quality of programs these offer. Still, there are some who target specific universities and colleges because they know someone who has studied there, a loved one or a friend, perhaps.
If you have not yet decided which school to go to, the soonest that you resolve that matter, the better.
How exactly do you go about finding the right college or university?
One of the key mistakes students often make, one that you should avoid, is grouping schools into two categories: your top or first choice and the rest. According to top higher education consultants, the correct mindset to get into when selecting which school to go to is to make a list of schools that you would be happy to get into.
First, you are likely to change your first choice over a given period of time. And even if you are lucky to get into your first choice, it is possible that you might transfer to another school after spending a semester or more in your original school.
Second, if you categorize your choice of schools between your first choice and the rest, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment should you fail to get into your top choice. If you are unhappy with your remaining choices, you are more likely to face problems later on.
Criteria for school selection
How do you create a list of schools that you will be happy to get into? Here are some helpful tips.
Don’t be drawn by the allure of the name or prestige
That does not necessarily mean that you should avoid well-known and prestigious school. Include these in your shortlist. However, beyond the brand and prestige, you should also base your choice of schools on what you actually want. And in order to do that, you have to do extensive research.
Identifying your needs
Each student has his or her own set of values and needs. Some students will choose a school due to proximity to their homes. Others will even travel abroad for their education. What is crucial here is to establish what your needs are as soon as possible.
Location is not just about the proximity of the school from where you currently live. Beyond that, location can mean other things like the climate and the ambience. And although these have no direct impact on your academics, remember that you will be living in an area for the most part of the year.
Would you prefer to study in a school with a limited number of students per class or you would you rather get into a large school with a large campus with plenty of activities and services to choose from?
Like it or not, college education can cost a small fortune. On top of your tuition fee, you will also have to factor other expenses like school supplies, food, and board and lodging.
Do not focus on a handful of schools
Again, your choice of schools to apply for can change. Perhaps you might uncover something during your research or school visit. Or maybe you simply do not like the climate in one of your school choices. The crucial thing to remember is to be flexible with your choices and avoid being enamored with a limited number of colleges and universities.
Getting into your university of choice
Once you have compiled a shortlist of colleges and universities that you would be happy to get into, you can now focus your time and energy toward making a successful application.
Send your application ASAP
One of the mistakes that you should avoid is waiting until the deadline for application is near. Remember, the school staff tasked with overseeing applications will be swamped and overwhelmed. Also, if you wait until the final hour to turn in your application, it is highly likely that you will turn in sloppy work.
Strive to get good grades
If you are eyeing to get into a highly selective school, low grades won’t make the cut. Getting Cs does not automatically put you out of contention. However, you have to stand out in a field of other good students.
Focus on activities that actually interest you
Instead of signing up for different clubs, choose the ones that interest you the most. That will help you enjoy these activities and make you stand out. Remember, colleges and universities are looking for students who can make a substantial impact.
Have someone look over your essay
Enlist the help of someone you trust, like a teacher, counsellor or even professionals who edit essays. Other people can provide invaluable insights on how to improve your work and even catch some errors you may have missed.
Do not get yourself hobbled with minor details. Let your focus zero in on the content of your essay and the story that you want to tell.
Show them that you are interested
Showing the schools that you are applying for that you are genuinely interested will boost your chances of getting accepted and will allow you to avoid getting waitlisted.
Do your research. Visit the schools. Reach out to professors. And then send supplemental essays about these.
Take everything seriously
There may be requirements that are listed optional during the application process. Instead of thinking that you can get away by not turning in these requirements, show interest and boost your chance of success by fulfilling these optional requirements.