Saturday, August 21, 2010

Which college best fits me?

Starting the College Search Process
With nearly 4,000 colleges and universities to choose from, one searching for the best fit college would wonder, where do I start? Finding the right college for each student can seem daunting as so much changes year to year in the planning process. No fret, there are many people who can help guide you in the correct direction.

Students of all GPA's can make it to college, if they want to. Colleges and Universities accept a wide range of students with GPA's ranging from 4.50 to 2.30....the trick is finding the schools where you qualify and stand out amidst the competition. If you meet the criteria, chances are you are also a good candidate for admissions. We all read news stories about the "competition" and the difficulty of acceptance to schools like the Ivy Leagues and "Top-Tiered" or whatever title reporters want to give the schools with a less than 30% admissions rate.

The fact is, there are 800 colleges and universities that accept students with a 2.5 GPA....more if you are a California resident who meets the A-G requirements for University of California and California State Universities.

Where to start.

Talk to your family. This is a big decision. Kids, you actually have to talk to your parents! Discuss what you as a student want to get out of college and listen to parents ideas of what they envision for your future. This may seem silly, but you'd be surprised how many families come in to my office without having any discussion at home about this whole college thing. Once the student and parents have heard each others' perspective on the issue, the process can become a bit easier.

Here are some things to think about and perhaps discuss as a family. Remember, this is about four years of your a student. Your input in this process is crucial.

What are some of your interests?

(Sports, community service, internships, religion). In addition to finding the right major, finding the right campus with appropriate extra-curricular activities and social networking is very important and must fit the student’s wants and needs.

What do you, the student, enjoy studying?
Remember, this is about your future. You have to actually like what you're studying!

List ALL subjects of interest (Art, cooking, engineering technology, etc).
Students may have the opportunity to major or specialize in myriad of topics, limiting the search or discussions on the traditional majors may hinder the process.

Where do you, the student, see yourself living after high school?

Distance from home?
Urban area? rural?
Large school or small school?
Where does the parent see their child living/studying while in college?

Once parents and students have discussed these points (and may disagree on the answers) we can begin to discuss compromises and set the direction for the college planning and preparation. This makes the subsequent meetings with the counselor much easier.

Still curious about where else to start?
This article may also help you.

The College Board website
has several articles that I use and can be of use to parents and students in the college search process.

The College Board website can be useful as a starting point on articles to read, topics to cover, and where to start. You may even be able to “Start Your College Search” from the College Board site as long as you remember that these searches are only a starting point. More information can be obtained from the universities and from attending the workshops and sessions held at Hamilton High School or by asking your wonderful counselor. :-)

A word from the wise:
There are several online resources to assist parents and students with the college application process....let "Google" be your friend, but be weary of which websites you choose as a valid resource. Before you type in “College Admissions” or “College Application” into the Google search engine, know that there are thousands of “resources” on the web that may help or confuse you even more.

Stick to some of the major sites:,, Make every attempt to avoid any online service that requires a fee without fully investigating the sites’ validity.

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