Default HubSpot Blog

6 Things to Consider When Choosing a College

Posted by Manuel Fabriquer on Thu, Sep 3, 2015 @ 11:22 PM

Choose College PHOTO

If you’re a junior or younger in high school, you’re still in the phase of narrowing down your options. Here are 6 important aspects of a college or university to consider when making your selections.

 1.      Class Size

For the best educational experience, a smaller class size is nearly always preferred. A lower student to teacher ratio generally means more one-on-one time with faculty and more personalized attention: always a plus to help you on the road to better learning. Private colleges and universities tend to have a reputation for smaller class size (and a lower overall student population), while large state universities more commonly offer 200+ student lectures, particularly in your first and second year. The average class size at your school will also depend upon your chosen major, as some are less common. Class size may not be the most vital element on your pros and cons list, but you should definitely give it some thought.

 2.     Location

So many students can’t wait to take off for college and go far from home. Others prefer staying closer to home. Remaining a few hours’ drive from parents or loved ones can be a great support, but striking out on your own can foster tremendous independence. Which option works for you depends on your specific needs. But don’t just consider proximity to family. Take a look at where the college or university is located geographically and within its city or town. Will you be bored with a small town feel? Some private colleges are nestled away in areas far from major cities which limits activities but can make for a more close-knit, centralized college experience. Would you prefer an urban environment, where your campus is in the heart of it all? You’ll never run out of things to do and places to go, but you may miss out on that more traditional “college” feel. Consider these factors and how they’ll impact your college experience.

3.     Program Reputation or Variety of Programs

Do you already know what you want to study? You are probably considering colleges and universities which offer great programs in your chosen field. For focused students ready to tackle a specific major, the quality and reputation of their chosen program will likely weigh heavily in their decision-making process. Look for programs that offer a variety of options, unique opportunities for students, and a supportive alumni system. This can be instrumental to you when you head out into the job field. For those students still undecided on a major or course of study (a situation which is very common), you may want to consider schools with a wide range of majors to choose from. This will give you plenty of options as you narrow down your educational path. You might also want to take a close look at schools that offer special programs to freshmen. Some colleges have first year programs designed to help you discover your passions and choose the right major for you.

4.     Living Options

Dorm life is a huge part of the college experience for most students. If visiting a college you’re considering, make sure to take a tour of the residence halls. You’ll be living in one of these for at least one or two of your college years, if not all. Clean and safe dorm environments are important to most students and their families. Perhaps specific living requirements are important to you, like substance-free dorms or single sex dorms. Be sure to investigate all your residence options carefully, to make sure you have the best chance at finding a pleasant living situation that meets your needs. Also, make sure to see if your chosen university guarantees housing for students. Some schools, mostly those in big cities, do not guarantee housing for upper classmen. You should discuss with your family if finding your own housing will be workable, financially and otherwise.

5.     Financial Aid

With the rising cost of higher education, financial aid is typically one of the most important factors students consider when deciding which college to attend. Finances are a personal matter and you’ll have to weigh the cost of each schools benefits versus its associated costs with your parents or other financial support systems. Upon admission to a university, carefully check your financial aid award letter to see what grants, scholarships, and loan options you have. Don’t forget to apply for outside scholarships. Don’t let money be a deterrent for receiving a college education. There are thousands of schools out there that are affordable and there are countless opportunities for securing the funds you need to attend any school.

 6.     Clubs & Activities

Lastly, do some research into what societies, clubs, and activities are available at the schools on your list. College and university life is about academics, of course, but also about making lasting friendships and having meaningful experiences. Sports, academic societies, Greek life, and clubs can all round out the college experience and help make your 4 years unforgettable. Your university should have a list of clubs and societies on their website, and often the contact information for the club officers is listed. Reach out to these students for more information on activities that interest you. This will help you see what kind of extracurriculars you may want to get involved in, and could help make your final decision that much easier. 

Tags: strategies for college, college planning abc, college planning, college applications, Manuel Fabriquer, College Admissions, attending college

How Many Colleges Should I Apply To For My College Admissions?

Posted by Manuel Fabriquer on Tue, Sep 1, 2015 @ 8:51 PM
HowManyPhoto

If you’re entering your senior year of high school this fall, you may have begun to give some serious thought to your college applications. Perhaps you’ve already visited some schools last year or over the summer. Maybe you have a few tours planned for the next few months, but haven’t yet fallen for any one university. No matter where you are in the process, the following question will inevitably enter your mind:

How many colleges should I apply to?

While there’s no simple answer or magic number, most college admissions experts and counselors agree that a realistic number is between 8 and 12 institutions. Less than that may be tempting fate, and more than that may be overdoing it. Let’s take a closer look.

All Eggs, One Basket

First off, let’s agree that it’s generally not a great idea to apply to a single school, particularly if it’s not one that accepts nearly every student. Some students choose to do this, and they are accepted and attend that institution. But what if the school you’ve selected doesn’t accept you? Or what if you change your mind and wish you’d considered more options? Even as you narrow down your picks, it’s a smart idea to keep the doors open for a few different opportunities.

Some Considerations

A lot of students like to “diversify” their applications by considering several different criteria. You might apply to different schools based on variations in location, cost, programs, and more. Perhaps you’d like a good mix of public and private universities. All these approaches are wise. The more diverse your prospective schools, the more options you’ll have as acceptances come rolling in. As well, many students find their opinions and interests change somewhat over the course of their senior year. Having a range of school choices may prove wise when you discover you’re suddenly not keen to go to that out of state college.

Reaches, Matches, and Safeties

Another way to “diversify” your applications is to choose a mix of schools that represent a tier of selectivity or difficulty. Ivy leagues and top private universities may be “reach” schools for most students. Even those with stellar academics and impeccable records aren’t guaranteed ivy admission. So these reaches are colleges you know you have a shot at getting into. These are the schools you cross your fingers for!

“Match” schools are those which should likely make up the bulk of your applications. Match schools are those in which you fall inside the statistics of the average admitted student. You have a fairly good chance of being accepted at these institutions.

And finally, “safety” schools are those which you know accept large numbers of applicants and which probably do not have overly rigorous admission standards. Applying to one or two of these is a way of “hedging your bets.”

Why Not Too Many?

Applying to dozens of schools may seem at first glance like a great way to turn the odds in your favor. But in reality, this isn’t the wisest move. Adding more applications can be a financial burden (with high application fees at some colleges) and also may equate to less attention given to each application. This could, in effect, reduce your chances of acceptance. Lastly, applying to an overlarge number of schools could simply add additional, unneeded stress to your life.

 

Looking for advice on what schools are the right choice for you? Contact us today at College Planning ABC, the leading Bay Area college consultant. 

Tags: strategies for college, college planning abc, college consulting, college planning, college applications, Manuel Fabriquer, College Admissions, attending college

What Should I Write About For My College Admissions Essay?

Posted by Manuel Fabriquer on Tue, Sep 1, 2015 @ 10:08 AM
what to write

There are many facets to a successful college application. Grades and test scores, recommendation letters, and interview are only a few of the elements taken into consideration by admissions committees. There is also another important part, and it is one that gives you a chance to share who you are: the admission essay.

High school seniors often panic about writing the essay. With word limits to think about and admissions officers to impress, the essay can seem like it may make or break your admission decision. While a poor essay won’t necessarily ruin your chances of getting into your dream school, it is definitely one aspect that can give you a much-needed edge. So what should you write about? In the end, it’s less about what you write than about how you write it, and even more importantly, who shines through the essay: you!

Get (Kinda) Personal

An admissions essay is not like a research paper or book report. Instead, it is a story. The admission committee wants to read your words and immediately know who you are and what you’d bring to their campus. The more personal you can be, the better. This demonstrates you as a likeable, open, authentic, and genuine person; one who will be an asset to their institution. Your story should be personal and meaningful to you, but it shouldn’t delve into territory that is too uncomfortable. You want to make the readers feel moved, but not put them off with oversharing.

Stand Out

Admissions teams are tired of reading the same old essay over and over again. Many topics are overdone (sports championships, cliche volunteer stories). Consider something fresh, but something that is unique and truly you. If the university offers a prompt for the essay, you’ve already won half the battle. Now, spend some time and come up with a great answer, perhaps one with an innovative perspective that they won’t expect.

Write in Your Own Voice

The admissions essay is not your opportunity to impress (well, maybe a little). It should be clear that you can communicate well with the written word and that you can easily share your views. But leave the “showing off” for other areas of your application such as academic transcripts and lists of achievements. The essay should delve into who you truly are. One of the best ways to do this is to write in your own voice. Avoid slangs and colloquialisms, but try and write in a way that’s similar to how you speak. Don’t bother filling your essay with lengthy vocabulary words you would never use in everyday life. This comes across and disingenuous and most likely doesn’t reflect who you are as a high school student. 

Write About Something That Matters to You

If you only had a few minutes to tell an admissions committee about yourself, what would you say? What story would you tell? The answer to that question may reveal the ideal topic for your essay. A strong essay should have a beginning, middle, and end, and ideally include a conflict or struggle. Showing how you dealt with a challenge in your life is always a great starting point, as is writing about a significant life event that shaped you or changed you. 

Tags: college planning abc, college consulting, college planning, college applications, Manuel Fabriquer, College Admissions, college admission essay, admission essays