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Compare colleges before applying


Tuesday, July 10, 2012
During your college search, the more schools you have an interest in, the harder it could be for you to decide which ones you should actually apply to. Rather than sending applications to every school you have ever considered, take some time to conduct a comprehensive comparison of potential colleges and universities.

Remember, the more detailed your comparisons, the greater an understanding you will have of what each school has to offer. Here are some of the main points to consider when comparing colleges:

Cost

For many families, tuition, as well as other fees, will play a major role in the final college decision. Consequently, you will want to consider whether or not a particular school is worth its high price tag - especially if another college offers a similar experience for a lot less. Use the U.S. Department of Education's College Affordability and Transparency Center to compare the cost of attending different schools.

Academic programs

Just as important as cost are the types of degree programs available at each college and university. If each of the schools you are looking at offers the same major, go deeper and see what courses and other academic opportunities they provide for students. This information can typically be found on the college majors or academic programs page of the school's Web site. By searching for your specific major or academic department you should find the program's syllabus, requirements and research or internship opportunities.

Extracurricular programs and activities

While your main college goal will be to earn a degree, this does not mean you can’t have fun along the way. If you have an interest in playing sports, compare each school’s athletic programs. Does your passion lie in the performing arts? If so, you are going to want to see which college can offer you the most theater opportunities.

Location

You may be looking at two colleges that you could see yourself thriving at, only one is located in a major city and the other is situated in a rural area. Location can play a huge role in the types of opportunities you encounter over the course of your studies, so take time to weigh the positive and negative aspects of each school’s surroundings. Typically, the best way to do so is to visit  each campus and explore the surrounding area.

Helpful resources

As you compare colleges, you will want to want to keep organized notes. You can do this by creating a chart, or using an existing template.

The National Association for College Admission Counseling’s Web site has a downloadable college comparison worksheet, complete with such categories as academics, environment and housing. Meanwhile, Big Future, a service of The College Board, offers a self populating comparison chart in which you can choose up to three schools and instantly compare the admissions process, selectivity, cost and campus setting.ADNFCR-16000756-ID-800815681-ADNFCR

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