Where to Find Admissions Advice: 7 Tips on how to find college programs that are the best fit for you!
Options that Colleges Offer: How do you find them?
According to the National Center for Education Statistics there are over 3,000 degree granting 4-year colleges in the United States. Woah. So now take that number and narrow your search down to a few different locations, and you’re still fighting an uphill battle trying to decide what school has a certain program of interest, or perhaps an honors college, or a department for academic student support. The list feels overwhelming and never-ending! The million dollar question is how do you figure out what programs schools have, which programs are better than others, and who will fulfill the needs of you and your prospective student. Here are my top seven tips to make you feel like an expert in the college search.
Keep a running list.
When you start hearing about different colleges through friends, family, school counselors, and the cashier in the grocery store, write them all down! We keeps lists for just about everything so why does this have to be any different? Share this list with your student, and when you both have time, sit down and explore the websites. Eventually move the schools you aren’t interested to the “no” list, and the ones that have sparked your interest… read on!
Sign up for emails
Once you have decided on schools that are interesting, create an email account. Google allows you to have multiple emails and you can create one for free! Use this email address to sign up for the college email lists which most of the time can be found on their admissions page. Inevitably you will get a lot of emails, but trust me when I say it’s worth it! They will send you updates on deadlines, special scholarships, and school visits!
Visit the colleges
If you can, I encourage you to plan college visits over junior year spring break and the summer leading into senior year. My absolute favorite way to gain information about a school is to physically check them out! You will take a student-led tour of the campus and I LOVE THIS! You get to meet current students, see the campus, check out classrooms, and get new information about the school from current students and staff.
If you can’t get to campus, a lot of schools are going the virtual route these days. Check their admissions website for a virtual campus tour that allows you to see campus from across the country. This is a great alternative, and a lot of times there are current students standing by online to answer questions in a live chat.
Attend college fairs in your area
I love that you get to meet admissions counselors at these fairs, and they are always ready and willing to answer any questions you have. Print out the list of schools attending beforehand so you don’t show up surprised that Princeton isn’t there. When you get to the fair, regardless of the schools you want to see, walk every aisle. This might seem crazy, but hear me out. Those schools next to Harvard and Cornell that don’t have a in line at their tables… TALK TO THEM. What you don’t know is maybe that small liberal arts college in the middle of Georgia actually has an awesome leadership program and are giving scholarships to students from Massachusetts. Take time to learn.
Attend high school college nights
Attending your high school college information nights might seem like a waste of time, but as a former counselor, one of the best things parents can do is attend those nights. A lot of times you learn some pretty important information about your counselor department’s specific timeline for applying to colleges, but you also learn valuable information that counselors get when they attend information sessions as well.
Know when colleges are coming to your area or school
A lot of high schools will host college representatives for the fall and spring. Encourage your student to sign up for these. There are a few reasons this is a great option. First, your student gets to learn more in-depth information about the college they are interested. Second, they get to meet the person who might be reading their application! Finally, they can ask personalized questions! These admission counselors love talking to students and helping them make the right decision. They aren’t going to hold it against you if you don’t end up applying to their college. You might actually find that they help put you in touch with a counselor at another school who has a program better suited for you.
One last bonus tip that really makes a huge difference is to take time to get personal with this process. Make it a point to meet your admissions counselor at each college. Write thank you emails. Encourage your student to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to talk to them.
Leave a comment below if you have ever tried any of these tips!