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Compare colleges before applying


Friday, July 06, 2012

During your search for a college, the more schools you have an interest in applying to, the less time you may have to fill out their applications to the best of your ability. Rather than submitting several lackluster admissions essays, consider pairing the number of colleges and universities you could see yourself attending to an amount that won’t leave you feeling stretched thin.

If you feel as though this will be difficult, you can turn to online tools like the U.S. Department of Education’s College Affordability and Transparency Center, which allows you to compare the costs of attending various schools.

Unfortunately, when you use this Web-based resource, you will only compare costs. While tuition plays an important role in your decision, there is so much more to your college experience than how much you end up paying. As a result, consider creating or using an existing college comparison worksheet.

You can find a template for this worksheet on the National Association for College Admission Counseling’s Web site or create your own with the categories that matter the most to you. Ultimately, your worksheet should provide you with a place to rank the features that can make or break your college experience.

Try to rank each college’s campus, academic programs, activities and housing options. After you have assigned a ranking to each category, you may have a clearer sense of which colleges deserve your full attention when filling out applications.

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