How to Find Your College Fit

With over 2000 four-year colleges in the United States, each with unique opportunities, resources, and course offerings, it seems that just about every student should be able to find the perfect university for his/her needs. However, there are several factors to consider when choosing a school, thereby rendering the college process a difficult one.

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The utmost important factor to consider is finding a school that meets your criteria. Be honest with yourself. Sure, it is great to shoot for the stars, but if you failed your 11th grade physics course and got a 20 on your ACTs, let’s face it - you aren’t going to be first on Harvard’s Most Wanted List. Consider all of the factors that will influence your acceptance decision - SAT scores, grades, extracurricular activities, essays, letters of recommendation, family alumni, awards, etc. How strong of a candidate are you? Should you be looking at extremely selective schools, average schools, or non-competitive schools? It is ok to have a few reach schools, but the bulk of the schools to which you apply should be within your selectivity range.

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The next factor to consider is financial need. If you want to receive a merit-based scholarship, you should consider schools that are below your range. If you want to receive financial aid, you should research the amount of aid that particular universities provide. For example, the Ivies are “need-blind,” which means that they do not take applicants’ abilities to pay for their tuition into consideration for their acceptance decisions. However, the Ivies do not provide any scholarships based on merit or sports.

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