Regarding identifying colleges, here are some tips I would recommend when trying to figure out where to apply:
Academic Fit: Consider the academic programs and majors offered by each college. Ensure they align with your intended field of study or your academic interests. Review the faculty's qualifications and research opportunities within your chosen field. A good resource to review these is https://www.ratemyprofessors.com/
Location and Environment: Think about your preferences regarding location. Do you want to study in a city or rural setting? Also, consider distance from home. I would recommend visiting campuses if possible to get a feel for the environment and campus culture.
Campus Culture: and Campus Size: Decide whether you prefer a small liberal arts college, a mid-sized university, or a large research institution.
Consider class sizes and student-to-faculty ratios, as they can impact the quality of education and personal attention you receive. Regarding culture, consider your personal values, such as the college's mission, values, and community involvement. Look into campus traditions, student clubs, and events to see if they align with your interests. Is Greek life important to you? Do you prefer a football team and a campus culture that values that? Or do you prefer a smaller school? These are some examples of questions to consider.
Cost and Financial Aid: Evaluate the cost of attendance, including tuition, fees, room, and board. Consider your family's financial situation.
Research available scholarships, grants, and financial aid options.
Extracurricular Activities: Look into clubs, organizations, sports, and extracurricular activities that interest you. Consider how you can get involved on campus. Consider if there are opportunities to pursue your hobbies or passions outside of academics.
Talk to Current Students and Alumni: Reach out to current students and alumni to gain insights into their experiences and perspectives on the college. You can easily find these individuals via LinkedIn!
Sometimes, your intuition plays a role in your decision. If you have a strong gut feeling about a particular college, it's worth exploring why you feel that way.
As far as standing out on the application, here are some recommendations:
Extracurricular Activities: Showcase your involvement in extracurricular activities, clubs, sports, volunteer work, or part-time jobs. Highlight leadership roles, achievements, and any long-term commitments that demonstrate your dedication and passion.
Recommendation Letters: Seek out strong letters of recommendation from individuals who can attest to your academic abilities, character, and contributions. This could be a homeschool teacher, a tutor, an employer, or a community leader.
Personal Statement/Essays: Use your personal statement or essays to explain your academic experience and how it has shaped your educational goals. Have you had to overcome any challenges? Have you won any awards or taking any advance classes? Have you experienced any big changes that helped your growth? The personal essay is the perfect place to share that.
Portfolio: If applicable, compile a portfolio of your work, including essays, research projects, art, or any other creative endeavors. This can provide tangible evidence of your skills and interests.
Special Talents: If you have unique talents or skills (e.g., music, art, sports, coding), showcase them. Include awards, competitions, or performances that highlight your abilities.
Independent Projects: Mention any independent projects or self-directed learning experiences you've pursued. These can demonstrate your initiative and curiosity.
Hope this helps and good luck!
Thank you for your question. One piece of advice I have about college is starting the application / preparation process as early as possible. If you are able to start as early as possible, you will save yourself from a lot of stress down the line and the overall process will feel a bit less overwhelming. Whether this be getting teacher recommendations early, ensuring that you've taken the necessary exams for the universities you are applying to, or ensuring that your GPA is where you need it to be for the colleges you are aiming for - these are all good and proactive steps you can take.
Once you get to college, my advice is to make sure that you utilize any college resources that will help you get the best possible grades - for example, attending every lecture, attending office hours, finding on-campus tutors that are specialized in specific subjects, etc. By being proactive about these resources, you will ensure that you are setting yourself up for success!
Hope that the above is helpful, and best of luck!
Melissa Mercado R.T. (N)(CT), LNMT
This is a great question to ask. I think the fact that you are asking it is already a great start. It is important to know that everyone's path to succeed in college is slightly different. The biggest things that helped me was, studying to understand a topic and not just to memorize it. The more you develop an understanding of what is being taught, the better your experience will be. The other most important thing that helped me was, being involved in activities. In general, having people skills can be great to land jobs and other opportunities. Work on communication/understanding and you'll have success:)!!
Kick off your college journey by getting a head start. Do a bit of research to understand what the admission requirements are, and strive to keep your GPA high. Don't shy away from challenging courses like AP or IB, they can really make your application stand out.
Get involved in extracurricular activities and community service that you genuinely care about. This will not only enrich your personal growth, but also add depth to your college application. Building strong relationships with your mentors will also come in handy when you need powerful recommendation letters.
Take your time to craft personal statements that are not only well-written, but also customized for each college you apply to. Don't forget to explore different financial aid options and scholarships that can lighten the financial burden.
Organization is key! Keep a close eye on application deadlines and don't hesitate to seek advice from counselors or mentors. When applying, consider a mix of reach, match, and safety schools. And remember, always be true to who you are throughout the process.
It's also important to remember that colleges are businesses. They want to attract students and they rely on tuition fees. So don't be afraid to ask them why their college stands out from the rest. After all, you'll be investing a significant amount of money for your degree, so be selective. Choose the one that feels right for you.
Best of luck on your journey!