How to Research Colleges This Summer

Thursday, July 20, 2017

how to research collegesUse Your Free Time This Summer to Catch Up on College Research

August is just around the corner – which means a new Common App and the start of a new college admissions season. For rising seniors and juniors, the last few weeks before the start of the school year is a great time to research potential colleges in order to develop and refine their balanced college lists.

Research is key to creating your balanced college list and putting together the best applications possible. Many students realize there’s a great value in research, however, many are not sure where to start. Below are some tips to help students research colleges this summer.

Think About Who You Are

What do you want out of a college? Is it a small campus with intimate classroom settings? Or a large school with a mix of large and small classes? Are college athletics important? Or certain clubs or activities? Obviously your intended major is paramount, but what else do you want out of your education? Research opportunities? Award-winning professors? These are the things you need to think about when beginning – and throughout – your college search and research process.

Make a list of the things that are most important to you: Major, size, location, job placement rates, etc. and do a simple web search based on that criteria. Also pick up a guidebook, like Fiske Guide to Colleges, to read and learn more about different institutions you may not have heard about before.

Depending on what information your research returns, you may end up changing what you’re looking for. Maybe a small campus sounded important before, but after some research you learn that maybe a medium-sized campus will have more of the activities and opportunities you’re looking for. Start big – with guidebooks and web searches – before narrowing down your search based on what you learn.

Create Your Own Rankings

At IvyWise, we don’t advise students to base their college list on a number on a rankings list. However, rankings lists, like Forbes, US News, PayScale, and others can be helpful research tools, as many use information like school-size, admission rates, SAT/ACT scores, financial aid, post-grad salaries and job placement rates, and more to calculate their rankings list. This information can help you better research colleges, and, in turn, create your own custom rankings list.

Other sites, like College Navigator, also have all this information. You should also use a school’s Common Data Set to get information straight from the source and better inform your research.

Other College Search and College List Resources

Here are a few other resources and guides to help you kick off your college search and guide you through the process of researching colleges for your balanced college list.

Research is key to a successful college admissions process, so make sure to take time to consider your college goals and learn everything you can about institutions that can help fulfill your needs!

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