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College Search and Applications

Students who do their research and enroll in colleges and universities that offer respected undergraduate and graduate degree programs can increase their chances of gaining academic, career, personal, professional and financial rewards that endure for decades. By conducting thorough college searches and understanding admissions application processes students can also save money on admissions fees and enroll in schools that have good relationships with area employers.

Other than buying a house, few decisions have as long lasting an impact as the decision to enroll in a certain college or university. Search tools available to students and their parents include college ranking reports such as the U.S. News and World Report, Princeton Review and Washington Post’s College Rankings. Information listed in these reports varies by publisher but generally include school founding dates, student demographics, whether or not the schools are public or private, social and professional programs offered to students at the schools, college entrance examination requirements and tuition costs.

Conducting College Searches In-Person

If students are centrally located to colleges and universities they are interested in attending, they can travel to the postsecondary schools and explore the campuses, including academic halls, athletic hubs and dorms in person. Students planning on attending college on-campus are encouraged to visit surrounding neighborhoods to get a feel for the area colleges and universities are located in. They can also browse through local newspapers to discover important facts about towns schools are located in.

To get the most out of college visits, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment through an admissions counselor. This way students can receive guided tours of the campus and take advantage of opportunities to learn about school history, current objectives and policies and practices. During tours students can ask admissions counselors and financial aid officers questions regarding lab fees, add/drop deadlines and internship and work/study programs.

By visiting colleges and universities, ensuring the schools are fully accredited by organizations recognized by the United States Department of Education and reviewing college ranking reports, students can narrow down the numbers of schools they want to submit admissions applications to. This step can save students and their parents money as some postsecondary schools charge $30 or more in application fees, money that is generally non-refundable

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More About College Search and Applications

Additionally, completing college and university applications generally requires students to provide their name, contact information, high school name and graduation date, honors and awards received, extracurricular activities they were involved in during high school and community programs they participated in. The more well rounded and involved students are at school and in their communities, the greater their chances may be of getting accepting into top schools. Many colleges and universities also require students to write and submit essays and, of course, high school transcripts, with their applications.

As a tip, students are encouraged to give essays thought before sitting down and writing them. It’s also helpful for students to have a parent or siblings who are already attending college to read over their essays, noting areas for improvement. After applications are submitted, some schools will schedule telephone or in-person interviews with students they feel are a good fit for their schools. By dressing in business casual attire, writing down questions to ask interviewers and answering questions openly and honestly, students can further increase their chances of getting accepted into top schools.

After admissions applications are received and interviews are completed (for colleges that conduct admissions interviews), admissions committee members may meet to review and discuss applications. Information provided on admissions applications can carry a lot of weight during committee discussions. It is during these discussions that increases in a student’s grade point average can make the different between whether or not admissions officers decide to admit a student.

The best chance high school graduates may have of getting admitted to top colleges and universities may be created during the high school years. Maintaining high academic standards, getting involved in sports or student organizations and volunteering in community programs show college admissions officers that students are focused and intent on improving themselves and the communities they live in.

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