college

College search: finding your best school

Before you choose: Visit the campus

"If (students) just go by reputation, when they arrive at the campus in the fall, they might be in for a big surprise because it may not feel right," says Rosa Pimentel, associate director of undergraduate admissions at UCLA. Even if you've already taken an admissions tour, go back for a more in-depth look, but this time explore on your own.

"It's important to get perspectives beyond just that of the host," says Carol DelPropost, assistant vice president of admission and financial aid at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio. Homesickness is often a factor in transferring or dropping out, so DelPropost advises scheduling an overnight stay if you plan to live on campus.

Talk to various students, from club leaders to athletes to those hanging out in the student center. "They will tell you the truth," says Pimentel. "They don't get paid to sell the campus."



Recap: The problems

Campus culture shock -- If the campus and its student body don't match the student's personality, the student will ultimately feel out of place.
Solution: What to consider before you choose »
Lifestyle transitions -- Students often underestimate the difficulty and challenges of collegiate life and have trouble handling transition issues, such as developing time management and study habits, forming new relationships and choosing a major.
Solution: What to consider before you choose »
Financial stress -- Students who must work to pay for college are at greater risk of dropping out than those who are more financially secure, according to an ACT college retention report.
Solution: What to consider before you choose »
Unprepared for college -- Most students are not prepared academically for college, according to an ACT report.
Solution: What to consider before you choose »
Academic mismatch -- Colleges that are either too easy or too difficult, often cause students to transfer or drop out altogether.
Solution: What to consider before you choose »
Lack of academic guidance -- One of the primary factors affecting college retention is the quality of interaction a student has with a concerned person on campus, often in the form of an academic adviser, says an ACT report on improving retention.
Solution: What to consider before you choose »
Students outgrow the school -- "Many students are thinking ahead in terms of going to medical school or law school or getting graduate degrees," says Rosa Pimentel, associate director of undergraduate admissions at UCLA. They may find, though, that the school doesn't have the resources it needs to move them ahead.
Solution: What to consider before you choose »
School selectivity issues -- An ACT survey shows 72 percent of students in "highly selective" schools -- those with the majority of freshmen in the top 10 percent of their high school class -- graduated within four years, as compared with 49 percent at "selective" schools; 31 percent at "traditional" schools and only 30 percent at "open enrollment" schools.
Solution: What to consider before you choose »

 

 

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