Choosing the Right School… for You

There has been a lot of exciting things going on in the world of higher education lately! Allow us to summarize.

U.S. News & World Report recently published their 2015 College Rankings, while the New York Times put out a list of the Top Colleges Doing the Most for Low-Income Students. Also, the White House just released several new higher ed tools, including a College Scorecard, and also announced big changes to the FAFSA financial aid application.

With all this news, and with the annual back-to-school season in full swing, it got us thinking about our own students and their paths to choosing the right school.

While traditional academic rankings can certainly be a helpful part of anyone’s college research, they don’t necessarily tell the full story. As President Obama states in the video above:

“Right now, many existing college rankings reward schools for spending more money and rejecting more students… That doesn’t make sense.”

For us here at Summer Search, it’s less about the best ranking and more about the best fit.

For our students, who are low-income and mostly first generation, there are so many obstacles to getting to-and-through college, and so many factors to consider when deciding if a school is a good fit. Here are just a few of the things that we encourage our students to think about:

  • How much financial aid is available (from the school, or from Pell Grants and other scholarships)?
  • What majors are offered (and is changing your major possible)?
  • What are the housing options and costs (on and off campus)?
  • What is campus life like (and is it friendly to low-income and first-gen students)?
  • How diverse is the student body?
  • Does the school require standardized tests?
  • What is the school’s graduation rate?

 
And these questions are often just the tip of the iceberg. This is why we have an entire team on staff dedicated to helping our students through the college selection process. Our College Success Teams, along with our mentors, work to find the best possible situation to help our Summer Searchers succeed and achieve their bachelor’s degree.
See where our Class of 2015 is heading this fall »

However, since our College Success “match-makers” unfortunately can’t be everywhere and help everyone, we decided to pull together a list of our favorite “college fit” tools for your viewing (and researching) pleasure.

In no particular order…

Best Match/Fit Resources
College Scorecard » I’m First »
Unigo College Match » Big Future »
College Confidential » Peterson’s »
College Navigator » CollegeData.com »
Fair Test » Colleges That Change Lives »

College-Reading (Some of our favorite reading material)

Most of these resources are questionnaire/survey style, which allow the user to navigate through a series of questions designed to narrow the focus down to a smaller, personalized list of schools. And best of all, they’re free to use!

Please note, these are just a handful of the many, many resources available out there.

So, if you’re reading this and are a prospective college student, or are the parent or counselor of one, we hope these tools can be your roadmap, or at least your walking stick, on your path towards finding the right school.

What are some your favorite college resources?

3 thoughts on “Choosing the Right School… for You”

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