Finding the Right Fit

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Accepting a college offer is one of the most important and expensive decisions students and their families will make in their lifetimes. After considering tuition, board, required fees, books, transportation and other personal expenses, a bachelor’s degree from some private universities can cost more than $240,000 if students pay the full sticker price. This is why it is imperative that students and their families create a prospective college list that is customized to their needs. Two of the most popular college ranking guides that serve as “College Bibles” for college applicants are Barron’s Profile of American Colleges and US News and World Report. They share comparative merits of educational programs at America’s colleges and universities in order to provide students and parents with as much information as possible. Analyzing data from these types of resources, college hopefuls can compare the academic quality of schools.

What’s really the difference between colleges?

Ranking colleges is an extensive process, as this information can be used in the selection process.  Some of the data used to determine ranking includes selectivity, graduation rates, retention rates, and faculty information.  With so much data, it is easy for one to get lost in the sea of educational statistics. Ranking can certainly be used to narrow down a list of schools, but should not be used as the sole basis to choose one school over another.  A student and their family should think about what factors they consider important before comparing colleges, so they can then select the best option for their needs.

Some factors that prospective students need to consider before selecting colleges to apply to include the student’s academic and professional ambitions, financial resources, school’s size, cost, programs, atmosphere and location. The prestige of the college is an important factor to consider, as earning a diploma from a distinguished institution can help a graduate get a good job or gain admission into a top-notch graduate program.

 

Are colleges getting more competitive?

During the past decade, there has been a decline in the number of schools that are considered easier to get into and an increase in the number of schools that are characterized as the most elite. However, a survey from the National Association for College Admission Counseling suggests that 75% of colleges have seen an increase in applications every year, which contributes to why schools are appearing more selective. Therefore, although colleges seem to be getting more competitive, it has to do more with the abundance of qualified students that are applying to those colleges, and less with the school’s’ educational rankings.
The bottom line when it comes to making college application choices is that there are differences in the academic quality of colleges and universities, and the application and acceptance atmosphere is always evolving. College Bound focuses on helping students and parents compare the academic quality at colleges and universities in order to make the application process less stressful during the journey towards that best fit school. If you are in the process of selecting a college for yourself or your child, we invite you to hold our hand and let us guide you through this difficult, sometimes overwhelming, process.