How to find information on colleges
Know how to find information on colleges to choose the right school for youIt's time to choose a college, but you don't know where to start. You've heard about the college your mom went to, the one your cousin didn't get into but you could, and the one your dad has been planning on sending you to since you were born.
But where can you find the real information you need to make a good decision without the family drama? We have some tips to help you sort through the hype and find the perfect college for you.
Start your research online
There are some great websites on finding the information on colleges that will let you narrow down your search to a few schools.
Websites like CampusCorner.com and Petersons.com can provide the college-bound student with tons of information about university and college locations, majors, costs and admission standards.
Don't forget to check out the College Board site, too. While you're registering for, or checking on your SAT test, you can also research college information.
Go to college fairs
Find out when the next college fair is going to be held in your city. These events bring together dozens of colleges and universities in one location. You'll get a chance to collect catalogs and other literature, plus you'll be able to talk to college reps face to face before you ever set foot on a campus.
If there's not a college fair in your area, or if you've missed it, find the nearest college fair (probably in nearby larger cities) -- the amount of college information you'll be able to collect in one day makes it well worth the drive.
Find an alumni group, ask questions
If you live in or near a large city, there are probably alumni groups for colleges and universities near and far. So how do you find them?
Go to the college websites for your favorite choices, and click on the "Alumni" link. There you will find a listing of chapters, usually along with contact information. Make a call and find out when they're having their next meeting or event, and whether you can attend.
Odds are, graduates who joined an alumni group will be more than happy to talk about their alma mater, so you'll probably be welcomed with open arms.
If there's no chapter in your area, or if there's no contact information for your local group, call the alumni group and tell them what you need. Most colleges and universities keep lists of graduates by location, and may be able to hook you up with alumni nearby.
Hit the road
Once you've gathered college information from online sites, college fairs and alumni, you're ready to visit your top three or four choices.
Make sure you make an appointment with the admissions office well before your visit. Some colleges allow individual visits, while others prefer to schedule group tours at specific times of the year.
Whether you visit one on one, or as part of a group, make sure you spend your time gathering the information you need to make your choice. Visit dorms, sample the cafeteria food and check out the local shops, transportation and event schedules. If possible, sit in on a class or two in your major. And ask all of those questions you couldn't answer online or at the college fair.
Still not sure? Take a peek at social media
After you've gathered your information on colleges from the "formal sources", and you've walked around the campus, take a peek at the conversations about the schools on Facebook and Twitter. The tips and comments you'll see there might just provide the information you need to make your final choice.