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Making a Choice
Research, research, visit, visit

The United States has well over 3,000 colleges, and according to one source, 90% of the colleges in the U.S. accept over 80% of those who apply.

Pretty cool, eh? But overwhelming too ... "Oh great, that really narrows it down ..."

Okay. That's the next step. Narrowing down your choices. This is where you plug in all that you know about yourself and critically evaluate colleges and what they have to offer. You can get this info about the colleges from guides, from campus websites and publications, from phone calls or other contact with admissions representatives. But ultimately the VISIT is crucial. You're choosing where you're going to live and work for the next four (or more) years, so you have to see it, feel it, touch it, interact with it to really be able to judge for yourself if a college is right for you.

The way you narrow down your choices of colleges is through focus and elimination. What are you looking for in terms of: academic majors, geographic location, climate, extracurricular and off-campus activities, size of student body, diversity and social climate, social life, housing options, cost, etc.? What is your focus? Perhaps, for example, you want the best schools with a chemical engineering major or schools that have Division III hockey. Use college guides to find what you want and to eliminate from your list the schools that don't fit your criteria. Check out Services for in-depth, systematic assistance with the college search process.

During the fall of your senior year, you will begin the actual application process. This is a time-consuming, sometimes repetitive, sometimes nerve-wracking task, so narrow your list of colleges down to 8-10 at the most. Realistically, you should apply to two schools and six at the most. Keep in mind that application fees are $50 and higher so that applying alone becomes expensive financially and in terms of the time and effort you have to put into writing each application.

Move on to "Paying the bill"