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
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 »