A lot of students think applying to college is as simple as deciding where they want to go. Visit a few colleges, pick the one they like the most and bam! decision made. Time for a reality check: colleges are the ones that get to decide first. Once you have acceptance letters, then and only then do you get to decide where you will be going next fall.
College admission is still very competitive and getting even more so at many state institutions. Applying to a state school is no longer the safety net it once was. Here’s what students need to know to improve their experience:
- Apply to about 6 to 10 schools. There’s no hard and fast number, but this is a pretty sound target assuming that you have a balance of “fairly sure bet,” “right fit” and “reach” schools.
- Be realistic. You may have always dreamed of attending Big Name School, but if your grades aren’t there or your SAT or ACT scores aren’t in their range, this may not be the school for you. It’s okay to reach, but be sure that most of the schools where you apply are a good fit to your credentials.
- Be flexible. What you think you want now may change over the next few months. Visit schools when they are in session so that you can get an accurate feel for what the educational and social environment is like.
- Keep an open mind. The schools that accept you do so for a reason. Even if a school isn’t one of your top choices, it may be the best fit for you.
- You don’t have to have visited to apply. Don’t worry if you haven’t had a chance to visit every school on your list before you submit your applications. Schools do keep track of who has visited, but sometimes it’s easier to fall in love with a school you have never visited after they’ve extended an acceptance letter.
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