Assessing Your List of Colleges/Universities

  • (taken from Collegeboard’s College Counseling


    As you develop a list of colleges that interest you, be sure you can answer these questions about them.

    The Basics

    • Where is the college?  Can you locate it on a map?  Is it too close to home?  Is it too far?  Is it too cold or too hot there?
    • Have you taken the course work the college requires for admission?
    • What size is the college?  How many students are undergraduates?
    • What is the college’s selectivity ratio (what proportion of applicants were admitted last year)?
    • Does the college offer majors that interest you?
    • Is the college coed or single sex?
    • What percentage of students live off campus?
    • How many of the students graduate in 4 years? 5 years? 6 years?
    • How many first-year students return for their sophomore year?
    • How much does the program cost?  What is the total per-year expense?
    • What type of financial aid is available?

    Where would you fit in?

    • What are the college scores for the SAT or ACT?  Where does that place you?
    • What were the high school GPAs of most of the freshmen last year?
    • Are freshman guaranteed on-campus housing?  If not, where do they live?
    • Are there extracurricular activities that interest you?

    Visit the colleges’ Web sites, read the guidebooks, and look at their literature

    • What are their strong academic programs?  (Ask a college representative, students, graduates, and teachers.)
    • What courses are required for graduation?
    • Are the courses you need/want available each semester?  At convenient times?
    • Are there special programs that interest you (study abroad, internships, etc.)?
    • What is the social life like?  What percentage of students join fraternities or sororities?
    • Do the pictures and language the college uses to describe itself attract you?
    • What is your general impression of the college?
    • Is the school accredited?
    • If professional certification is required for employment in the field that interests you, how many students enrolled in the school’s program pass the certification exam?

    Admissions Process

    • When are applications due?
    • Does the college accept the Common Application?  If so, does it require supplemental forms?
    • What does the application contain?  Are essays required?
    • Is an interview suggested or required?  Is an interview available form staff or alumni?
    • When may you visit the college?  What is its policy regarding campus visits?
    • What are the financial aid deadlines?  What financial aid forms are required?

    Now answer these questions

    • Am I a strong candidate for admission to this college?
    • If I am not a strong candidate, what are my chances?
    • Do I want to visit this college?
    What additional information do I need?