1. Don’t even think about making a final college choice without visiting at least your top two choices…more if possible. Visits are the only reliable way to learn about the campus environments of the colleges you are considering and how good a “fit” you might be. And bring your parents along if you can…you might find their impressions helpful.
2. There are no exceptions to rule #1.
3. A college is not necessarily right for you because its name is familiar. That seems pretty obvious, but you wouldn’t believe how many students equate educational quality with name recognition.
4. Take the extra step of identifying and investigating at least three colleges you know almost nothing about but offer the major in which you are interested, are in locations you like, and have admissions criteria which make you a good candidate. You might be very pleasantly surprised at what you find.
5. Choosing a college because your friends are or will be attending is just plain stupid. Choosing a college because your boyfriend/girlfriend is or will be attending is even dumber.
6. College-bound students often get lots of input from well meaning family and friends. Unfortunately, much of it is inaccurate. Be careful when folks categorize a college as “too expensive”, “impossible to get into”, “a party school”, “a top liberal arts school”, etc. There is a lot of misinformation out there, and people often mindlessly pass on what they hear. Find out for yourself what is true and what isn’t, and beware of people who oversimplify and over generalize.
7. In the beginning of your search, do not worry about cost. The fact is, you won’t know what a college might cost you until you find out what kinds of financial aid, if any, you might be offered. So, whatever you do, do not rule out colleges because of their cost in the initial stages of your search. And, be aware that some colleges pledge to meet the full financial need…