College search: finding your best school
Before you choose: Ask about academic advisingUnfortunately, the report also found most institutions underutilize or poorly utilize academic advisers.
To ensure you'll be paired with a faculty member who does more than just a sign off on a course list, ask the admissions office if you can speak with your assigned academic adviser ahead of time. "Ask about the faculty adviser's training, commitment and accessibility," says Carol DelPropost, assistant vice president of admission and financial aid at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio. If one hasn't been assigned to you, ask to speak with faculty members in your intended program of study or areas that interest you. A good academic adviser will help steer students to appropriate courses and help them balance their schedule for academic success.
"The faculty is always going to be the first line of defense against an academic problem," says Tom Weede, vice president of enrollment management at Butler University in Indianapolis.
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 »