There are over two thousand colleges in the United States that offer four-year bachelors degrees. The internet is a treasure trove of college information. There are Hired Graduate articles that describe how to build a college list, how to narrow the list of colleges, and how to compare colleges. It can all be a bit overwhelming. There are many books available such as the Fiske Guide To Colleges that provide summaries of three hundred different colleges and provide several indexes by state, cost, average debt and best buys. And there are those pesky college rankings lists that get published by various companies each year. So how can you research a college online? By visiting sites like Collegedata.com. We will demonstrate.
Researching Colleges At Collegedata.com
The collegedata.com site contains helpful tools and articles along with college descriptions and data organized into categories that make comparing colleges to one another easier. In fact they allow users to search and filter colleges by inputting some of the key criteria that may be important to you. Consider all criteria that you will use to filter. When you filter you remove candidate colleges from consideration. There may be some great colleges that you filter out of consideration.
It may be best to use a limited amount of filters at first and then perhaps expand their use as you begin to identify key characteristics that may be important to you. For example, if you are in the state of Georgia then you may start your search for all schools in Georgia. Then study those results and perhaps identify other criteria that may make sense to narrow the search.
When evaluating the Collegedata.com site you will notice it is divided into some major components: College 411, Prepare & Apply, Pay Your Way and College Buzz.
College 411 provides helpful tools and articles about the college search. It also contains a College Match tool intended to allow you to search, view summary results, and view college profile details that outline a selected schools overview, admissions, money matters, academics, campus life, and students profile information.
Prepare & Apply provides helpful tools and articles about the college application process. It contains an admissions tracker tool that lets you search, view results, and track your admissions profile. It also provides a handy reference tool to view colleges that accept both the common application and the universal college application.
Pay Your Way provides helpful tools and articles about financing and paying for college. It also provides a financial aid tracker, a scholarship finder, a financial aid calculator, and a way to evaluate and compare college costs based on college offers presented to you.
College Buzz provides helpful tools and articles about the road to college with true student stories, how to manage your money, college life, and helpful resources for counselors intended to support students in their search.
Using The College Match Tool At Collegedata.com
Collegedata allows you to select your preferences for college location, size, gender mix, type of institution, entrance difficulty, freshman satisfaction, graduation rate, cost, financial need met, student debt, merit aid, sports, student background, and academic programs. For best results, start with the match criteria that are most important to you.
Step 1. Go to Collegedata.com
Step 2. Click on the College Match tool
Step 3. Consider The Factors Most Important To You
Step 4. View The List Of College Search Results
My first search was just for colleges in the state of Georgia. Fifty-seven results appeared. When I modified the search filter to schools with coed attendance, with attendance greater than 2,500 and entrance difficulty that was moderate to difficult the results were narrowed to twelve colleges. These twelve colleges have varying levels of size, residential tuition, non-resident tuition, need met, merit aid offered, student debt, freshman satisfaction and the four-year graduation rate. It should be noted that for the two thousand colleges in the college data database the average four-year graduation is 40%.
Step 5. View The Detailed College Profile
Once you have a narrowed list of college choices you can view an overview, admissions criteria, money matters, academics, campus life, and student information. Explore each category fully and determine if this school is one you would be interested in taking further steps with. If you are interested you should check out my article Top 9 Tips To Demonstrate Interest In Your Favorite College to give you the greatest advantage on getting into your college of choice and also describes all of the steps important to confirm your interest in applying to the school.
Compare many schools to one another. Use filtering to prepare a short list of fifteen to twenty candidate schools you may refer to as your first college list. You will then want to dig into each school further to a smaller number of schools that you may apply to. You can check out the 12 Tips To Comparing College article to understand how to best compare schools to one another and how to build a score to rank them. If you are drawn to specific schools you can use the College Overlaps feature available on the College Profile page. For example, for students interested in the University of Georgia the tool informs that students are also interested in Georgia Institute of Technology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of South Carolina, Clemson University, Auburn University and Emory University.
Take Admissions Qualifications Into Account
Performance in high school is one of the biggest measures to understanding the odds of acceptance to colleges. The national test scores on the ACT and SAT, the non-weighted GPA, the class rigor (mix of honors, AP, IB courses) and the extracurricular activities to name the major ones.
The College Search Starts With You
Collegedata.com is a great site built to provide you many resources and useful information to assist you on your search for college. It is great to have a site dedicated to this purpose.
Understand that the college environment, its location, its people are a key foundation to selection. Ensure that the college has the right academic fit, offering major selections that suit you, has the right class size and an instruction style that works for you. Plan to visit the school before making final decisions.
College provides you the bridge between high school and the working world and prepares you to take on this great world. It is important to find a college that meets your highest priorities at the most affordable price. You want to be able to make a major decision by sophomore year and graduate in four years with the least amount of debt possible. This allows you to focus on the what’s next after your undergraduate degree.
If you anticipate needing higher education such as masters or doctorate degrees or professional school then you may want to factor this into your financial fit formula. If you know you want to be an eye doctor or a dentist then you will require professional school. You may want to pick an undergraduate school that provides the best foundation to get you accepted AND is also cost effective.
You may want to also consider a results-oriented approach and pay attention to graduation rates, professional school acceptance rates, retention rates, internship and cooperative opportunities and job placement rates.
There are dozens of colleges that will work for each student. So although this process may seem difficult, know the key ingredient to each college experience is the student. It is important to find the right paper, paint, paint brush, easel, and inspirational setting – but it is the student who will paint that picture.
Consider all angles of best fit, make a decision and go for it.