college

College search: finding your best school

Before you choose: Compare scores

Compare your academic scores, like GPA and SAT/ACT score to the median scores of the schools you are considering. "You don't necessarily want to be the best student and you don't necessarily want to be the last student," says Tom Weede, vice president of enrollment management at Butler University in Indianapolis.

Students whose academics tower above the rest may become academically bored. Those who barely squeaked in may find themselves struggling to keep up. "You need to have an honest conversation with yourself on how you learn and how academically prepared you are," says Weede.

Academic boredom also happens even with a good academic fit, says Wes Habley, ACT's principal associate. "(Students) look at the first year curriculum and say, this is nothing but a repeat," he says. To avoid curriculum frustration, request a course catalog to see if there are classes that will interest you throughout your college career.

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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