Choosing Colleges: 5 Things You Must Do

Need help in choosing colleges?  It so, you’ll be interested in this college blog post by David Montesano. David is an admission strategist with College Match,  an educational consulting firm that aims to help families find great colleges at discount prices.

Here are 5 things that David suggests that you keep in mind when when are looking for college matches:

1. When considering how to choose a college beware of college rankings.

US News and World Report ranks colleges on reputation, retention, test scores, and class rank and places less emphasis on outcomes like graduate school placement and earnings. Class size, student’s ratings of their professors, and graduate school admission success are better measures of undergraduate quality. A good source of information is College Confidential.

2. Don’t worry about your student’s major.

Unlike other parts of the world, students in the U.S. increasingly attend graduate programs to get the specialization they will need for their careers.

3. Become a realist about competitive college admission.

If a family is considering undergraduate admission to schools with admission rates of 10% or less, it is important to note that your student often have a chance of admission that is closer to 3 or 4 percent. 40% of the spaces are taken up by recruited athletes, under-represented minorities and legacies—the sons and daughters of alumni.

4. Don’t overlook “small name” colleges.

Instead of focusing on Ivy League, MIT and Stanford, look for colleges that feed into these for graduate study. The Wall St. Journal published a study of the top 50 “feeder” colleges.

5. Look for the right college match.

Base your decisions about where to go on your values instead of location, prestige or cost. Read the about the college’s mission and founding to be sure that the college’s values are the same as yours. Colleges, like people, have values; it’s like joining a family. You will inherit the network by attending.

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and a new eBook, Shrinking the Cost of College. She also blogs for CBSMoneyWatch and US News. Follow her on Twitter.

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  1. I think it is also important to research which support services are available to the student ie tutoring, open lab, internet access etc.

  2. This is great advice. It’s also important to consider which college will be affordable for your family by comparing the Total Cost of Attendance at each school you’re considering. If you need to take out loans, it is important to consider if you will be able to make enough money upon graduation to repay those debts. Good luck to all of the high school seniors out there!