Keys to College Admission
Plan for College
Matching Characteristics
The Application
The Admission Process
Admission or Rejection
Additional Articles


How do you match up with:

College size (enrollment, gender) -
Would you be comfortable in a college of more than 15,000 or less than 1,000 students? Are diversity and gender balance important to your college decision?

Geographic location, housing & campus life -
Do you prefer an urban or rural environment? Do you want to stay close to home or are you ready for a change? What about climate, recreational options, culture, food and housing?

Method of instruction -
Is a competitive or relaxed learning environment more attractive? What is the best class-size to compliment your learning style?

Length of program -
How long do you want to be in school? Programs may be 1 year, 2 year, 4 year or more.

Cost -
Many college cost options are available. Remember, cost is more than just tuition and fees, it also includes books and supplies, food and housing, transportation and other expenses. College financial aid is based on this "Total Cost of Education.


Narrowing College Options

Request information on programs, admission, financial aid.
Contact prospective colleges as soon as possible. To plan completely for college it is important to start planning at least 9 months before the start of classes. Call the college admission office (Tip - most colleges have free 800 phone numbers) and ask for a new student information packet. Be sure to tell them your possible areas of study and ask for specific information on appropriate programs. Ask for information on college financial aid and scholarships at the same time.

 Arrange a campus visit
There is no substitute for first-hand experience. Make every effort to arrange a campus visit and tour. Visit while classes are in session and ask to sit in on a class. Talk with students on campus, they won't give you a sales pitch. Most colleges offer overnight, weekend and summer visit programs. Call the admission office to arrange your visit. If you cannot visit the campus ask if a video tour is available.

Review choices with professionals in chosen career
You're not in this alone. Talk with peers, family, friends and teachers about your educational plans. Contact people who are already working in your prospective career and ask them what worked for them. Many college alumni groups offer prospective students contact with alumni working in a variety of careers. Contact the alumni office and ask if this is available? Find a mentor who you can talk with on a regular basis.

 Ask about retention and placement
BE SURE to ask every college the following questions:

1. Retention - How many of the students who enroll at your school actually complete a degree. Nationally, about 60% of the college freshman move through to graduation. Persons of color should ask about retention rates for their racial ethnic group.

2. Placement - How many of the graduates from your area of study actually receive job offers in their chosen career? Which companies recruit on campus.

Colleges that cannot answer these questions should be avoided.



College Planning On-Line

Collecting information on colleges and applying for admission can be as easy as accessing the Internet. While many individual colleges have sites on the World Wide Web, it is even simpler to use one of several free college search programs.

CollegeView, CollegeTown and College Board all produce well organized, user-friendly college search sites, free on the Internet. The Web sites allow students and parents to enter student data and match characteristics with any college in the United States. Students can then request materials and apply for admission electronically with many colleges or fill out requests or applications to be printed and sent to any college. College Planning Network offers direct links to these sites and other online resources via, as well as offering full college planning information.

Until recently, most of these resources were only available through high school counseling offices or career centers who had purchased the programs. Now these tools are available right at home.


Campus Tour Check-List

 Summer is an excellent time to tour college campuses. As colleges have summer classes, visiting campus can include interaction with students and provide an actual experience of college life. Visiting colleges when they are on break is to be avoided as it is quite different from the campus environment when in session. For this reason, campus visits in the last two weeks of August are not recommended. When arranging a campus visit, start with the admission office. Ask if there are special campus visit events or weekends planned during the summer or academic year. Many colleges arrange special times to visit and many pay food, housing and even transportation costs. When you arrive on campus, be sure to include the following if possible:

1. Visit the admission, financial aid and student housing offices and pick up all necessary applications and informational materials. You may want to meet with admission and financial aid officers to discuss your specific situation and determine the likely-hood of admission and financial aid offers.

2. Make sure your campus tour includes:
the department or college representing your area of study
a class-in-session that relates to your major
campus housing
campus food services, try the food, check the prices and options for on and off campus meals
student services including the counseling center, academic advising
the computer lab
the athletic complex if you enjoy sports
the bookstore
the library
the multi-cultural affairs office (especially for students of color)

3. Ask to speak with a student who is pursuing the same major you have chosen. Ask what campus life is really like in the classroom and the dormitories.

4. Take a camera for pictures of key areas and make good notes to review as you make you final choice.