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Saturday, March 12, 2016

How to Explore a college/university online

Deciding which colleges to explore, which to visit, and which to apply to is a critical part of the college prep process.  This process is almost always done via online research.  However, most have little to no idea about how to go about it.Far too often these decisions are led by hearsay and only a cursory examination of the various schools on a student's list.  Below I outline the various aspects which should be examined.  For further information or assistance with the various aspects of this process, please see my website

11.     If you are not working with one of my lists, go to and look up the stats for size, test scores, graduation rates, % of financial need met, class size, etc.
22.     Determine the most important factors for you – location, major, size, grad rate, cost, study abroad, athletics, clubs, religious features, etc.
33.     Create a spreadsheet for your information – record your findings for each school
44.     Explore the academics first
a.     Check out your major
                                               i.     Read the overview
                                              ii.     Explore the course requirements
                                            iii.     Check out the professors (can be done in a later round)
                                            iv.     Explore the options (study abroad, cooperative education programs, internships, capstones, senior projects, concentrations, double majors BA/MA or BS/MS programs
                                              v.     Look through the course offerings – are they interesting? 
5.     Explore Student Life
                                               i.     Read the overview
                                              ii.     What clubs and activities are there?
                                            iii.     What support is there – counseling, religious/spiritual opportunities, healthcare, tutoring, writing center, academic advising, study abroad coordinator, etc.
                                            iv.     Housing
1.     What sorts are available?
2.     Is living on campus required?
3.     Do they have housing for everyone?
4.     Do most live on campus or off?
5.     Do most go home on the weekends?
6.     What are the dorm rules – drinking, intervisitation, drugs, noise, etc…
                                              v.     Check the stats
1.     What percent go abroad?
2.     What percent get to be leaders?
3.     What percent join sororities/fraternities?
4.     Crime stats 

5. Explore Admissions
   i.     What HS courses are required?
                                              ii.     What admissions programs do they have (ED, EA, RD, rolling)
                                            iii.     What are the deadlines? Which application(s) do they accept?
                                            iv.     What test scores do they require?  What’s the last acceptable test date?
                                              v.     Find stats about a recent class - # applicants under each program, % accepted, % who came, test scores, GPA/class rank
                                            vi.     Check into recruiting, if you're an athlete or debater, etc. 

6. Explore Financial Aid
                                               i.     What forms are required?   When are they required?
                                              ii.     What scholarships are offered? Do they have tuition reduction programs?
1.     Do they have separate applications? Deadlines?
2. Are they merit (and on what basis - academics, leadership, special skills)? financial need based? athletic?

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