So, we've covered who gets in and why, plus how to make your application even more awesome! But now what? How do you know which of the multitudes of colleges you may have applied to is the perfect one for you?
^this packed room of people want to know the answer!^
Our second panel was titled "Finding the Right Fit: How to Determine Which College is Best for You" set out to help pre-collegiettes wrestle with this massive decision!
Start your search early! There is an infinite number of colleges and universities in the United States (and the rest of the world, if you are so inclined!), so you'll want as much time to narrow your list as possible. Speaking of, both College Board and Naviance have tools that can help narrow down this crazy huge list with a separate list of things you know you want on your ideal campus- easy things like size, location, major (if you know what you want to study), Greek life... and everything else you could imagine!
In a similar vein, Google is your friend! Before even leaving your house or stepping foot on a campus, you can learn so much about a school- from a million different perspectives and lenses! Blogs, YouTube, virtual tours, campus publications... get a real feel for a place and narrow your list down that way. If you do find students' blogs, it isn't weird to reach out (speaking as a blogger and from what I heard in the panel)! Our panelists said to ask your questions (make sure to do so politely!) because, if they're excited enough about their school to share it with the web, they're excited enough to talk to you about it!
Of course, campus visits are very helpful in helping you find your perfect choice! Visit as many as your schedule allows (take advantage of spring break!), because it changes your view of the college on paper. While on a tour or wandering around campus, know that sometimes your list of wants can shift. This change is completely for your benefit- to make you more comfortable on your campus of choice! While on a tour, make sure to ask what makes this particular college different, as oftentimes tours highlight the same things. Parents- make sure you ask questions of your tour guide! One of our panelists suggested even going on different tours from your children if your chatting up the tour guide is termed as "so embarrassing, mom, stoooop!" While tours can be super informative (if you make the most of them) you can get just as much out of wandering the campus and getting a sense of it that way!
Also, take note of what you didn't see and try and figure out why. If they didn't show you a dorm room, are they not nice to live in? If they didn't show the gym, is it very old or run down?
Check a cork board and some posters! What's up in students' down time? See how the students treat the campus: if they treat their space well, they probably treat each other AND themselves well!
Don't visit more than 3 campuses in a day, and make sure to develop a review sheet to fill out after every campus visit- if you complete it right away, you'll remember better and can use your experience to inform your supplements!
College is YOUR moment. Don't make your choice just because your friend is going there, or your friend/extended family/parent did go there! Also, don't limit yourself based on the prestige of where you get in- yes, it's an honor to get into a very highly esteemed institution... but do you feel comfortable there? Do you see yourself being happy there? If yes, awesome! If no, look to your other acceptances with no guilt, my dear!
Speaking of tours, look at this group at Northeastern! Looking around campus from under their umbrellas and listening to their tour guide over the rain... know that the weather will influence your view of a campus! BC is so much more welcoming and beautiful when it's sunny and gorgeous than when it's cold and gray. Just something to keep in mind!