For most students, it isn’t so much about which specific colleges you visit as it is about visiting different types of colleges. Start by visiting colleges near you. Yes, I know you may already be familiar with them or know that you don’t want to go to that college. Fine. This isn’t about finding the one specific college for you. Rather, by visiting different types of colleges you can start to learn about what sort of things you want from a college.
Want a college with lots of school spirit? Don’t care if you never see a football game on campus? Want a college that will challenge you intellectually even when you are not in class? Want to know which fraternity has the best parties?
Those are the types of considerations that you might be thinking about and they are your considerations, not those of your friends or your parents. This is about what you want from a college.
Some of this is difficult to understand until you have visited a number of different types of colleges. If you are a typical student, keep an open mind when first starting to visit campuses. Many students say they want a large campus. Great. But why do you want a large campus? And is a large campus the only way to get what you want?
Let me give you an example in my state. Many students will look at the University of Minnesota for diversity. But the reality is that there are two small colleges in the state that on a percentage basis are much more diverse than the University. Does that make them a better option for the student that wants diversity? Not necessarily but these are the types of things that you need to find out by visiting different colleges.
By visiting different types of colleges, large, small, public, private, rural, urban, you can start to understand what you what from the college you might attend. Once you have some understanding of that, then you can start the process of finding some great colleges to apply to.
You do that by going to a college search site like College Navigator or Big Future. Those sites will let you put in some information about your academic background as well as what types of things you are looking for in a college to start getting some ideas of specific colleges.
Once you have an initial list of colleges to consider go to the website of each of the colleges to investigate the college a little more. If you still like what you see you may want to visit before applying because a college can be very different in real life from its website.
Remember what I said about juniors starting to think about visiting? I hope you now have some idea of the work that goes into finding the right colleges for you. Starting before junior year is a good idea to give you more time to consider all of your options.
With almost 3,000 four year colleges in this country, you have lot of options. Make sure you spend the time to consider all of the options to find the best colleges for you to apply to.