College Search Process
Searching for the right college is an experience outlined below:
Your choice of a college should be an extension of yourself, and your search for the best college for you should be guided as much by looking at yourself as it is by looking at the colleges, rankings, and guidebooks.
Focus your decision-making on what is important to you. College is not simply a place where you will study and live for four years; it will be the place where you make lifelong friends and begin to shape your adult identity both intellectually and socially.
Some factors to consider in the college search process:
- Availability of intended major
- Possibility of combining majors
- Library and computer resources
- Class sizes and faculty/student ratio
- Availability of full-time faculty vs. graduate assistants as professors
- Reputation for academic quality
- Availability of off-campus programs
- Quality of facilities and faculty in area of intended major
- Opportunities to try out career interests through internships
- Percentage of graduates accepted to intended graduate school
- Percentage of graduates employed after graduation
- Quality and accessibility of faculty
- Intellectual level of students
- Friendliness of students
- Accessibility and responsiveness of the administration
- Social opportunities—percentage of students in Greek life
- Variety of clubs/student organizations
- Quality of social facilities for students
- Major athletic programs
- Diversity of enrollment
- Cultural opportunities
- Appearance of campus
- Size of campus
- Availability of housing
- Metropolitan vs. rural
- Residential vs. commuter students
- Availability of good places to study
- Dining options on- and off-campus
- Local shopping, restaurants, and activities
- Convenience of transportation and parking
- Total cost (tuition, fees, books, etc.)
- Cost of travel to and from home
- Availability of financial aid and scholarships
- Employment opportunities on campus
Whether you are on a campus visit or meeting with a college representative who is visiting Country Day, be prepared to ask questions about the school. Here are some suggestions:
- What do you consider to be the college’s strongest majors or departments? The most popular majors?
- When do you choose a major? How easy is it to change majors?
- What are other distinctive or unique majors or programs offered? (i.e., study abroad, internships, Washington semester, independent study, etc.)
- What percentage of your students go on to grad school and/or are employed after graduation?
- To what extent will graduate students teach my classes?
- Does the college have an honor code, and how effective is it?
- What percentage of students stay on campus on the weekends? What are some typical weekend activities? What cultural and recreational opportunities are available on and off campus?
- What percentage of students are in sororities and fraternities? Are students who choose not to join considered “outsiders?” What are the rules about alcohol on campus?
- What is the college’s policy concerning the credit and advanced standing for AP/IB tests?
- What percentage of students return for their sophomore year? Graduate? Continue on to grad school?
- Can you describe the atmosphere/personality of the campus?
- How is course registration conducted?
- What type of housing is available to students?
- Is an interview required? What part does the interview play in the admissions process? What part does an area alumni interview play?
- Is this school test optional?
- Do you super score the SAT and/or the ACT?
- How many students typically apply for admission each year, how many are accepted and how many enroll? What percentage are accepted Early Decision? Is this an advantage?
- What are the burning issues on campus?
- What is the general political climate on campus?
- What is the average class size? How many students are in the largest classes?
Look at the college interview as an opportunity to share information about yourself. You want to put your “best foot forward.” Here are some suggestions:
- Some colleges offer individual interviews. Public universities typically do not. Some colleges offer alumni interviews in Charlotte. Your student should interview whenever possible.
- College Counseling can help prepare students for interviews. Counselors have interview tips and a list of questions that students may be asked, which we can provide your student prior to an interview.
- Alumni interviews are generally casual conversations, however, the alumnus completes a report after the interview to submit to the admissions office, so it is best for students to be prepared.
- Dress as you would for an assembly day at school. Or something you might wear to church or synagogue. Look nice!
- Arrive early. Take the campus tour before your interview, if possible.
- Look your interviewer in the eye. Smile and give them a confident handshake to start.
- Be honest and be yourself.
- Be ready to answer the question, “Why are you interested in this college?” Be prepared to discuss several reasons why you are serious about attending the school.
- Have some questions ready, other than those you can find the answers to on the college’s Web site. Perhaps there was something on the tour you would like clarified.
- Have five attributes about yourself that you want to get across during the interview. Try to work them into the answers you give.
- Provide examples. If you say that you are a good leader, have an anecdote about a time when you demonstrated that.
- Answer questions thoroughly, but watch the length of your answers. You don’t want to answer with one sentence, but you also don’t want to continue talking too long.
- Humor is a good thing, if you use it properly. It lightens the moment and helps you take a deep breath.
Questions usually center on some themes. They include your goals, your strengths and weaknesses, your values, your individuality, your intellectual interests and accomplishments; they might also concentrate on what you might contribute to the college, what you’ve read lately, or what you do for fun. Occasionally, colleges will ask students about current affairs, but typically they want to know about you.
Think of this as a conversation rather than an interview. What kind of conversation would you have with a friend of your parent(s)? Typically, after the first few questions, the interviewer will find out what you enjoy and will focus on that idea. Be ready with your five attributes!
Thank the interviewer for his/her time. Be sure to write a thank you note or e-mail to thank them again when you return home.
The College Counseling office has a list of questions that might be asked as well as questions you might ask. Stop by for a copy.