College choice is all about the fit. Just like shopping for jeans or a car, one size DOESN’T fit all!
There are approximately 4,500 degree-granting institutions in the United States including close to 3,000 four year institutions.
Do you want a big school or small? City, suburban, or rural? Do you like to participate in class discussion or would you prefer to learn in a lecture environment? Are there extracurricular activities that you would like to continue or begin? These and many other considerations will help you identify the colleges that are right for you. It’s easy to get caught up in rankings and reputations or to follow your friends. Try to avoid those influences and just consider your own interests.
A note to parents: Be aware that the college landscape has changed a lot since we were college students. The number of applicants is higher and admissions rates at many schools are much lower.
For example, in 1980 Yale received 9,387 applications, and admitted 26.4%. In 2012 there were 28,974 applications, and the admission rate was 6.8%. In 1980 UCLA received 9,352 applications for first year students and admitted 74.3%. In 2012, 22.0% of the 72,697 applicants were admitted.
What might have been a “safety” school then is likely to be much more selective now. Keep an open mind when your child is considering colleges that you might have dismissed or maybe haven’t even heard of. There are many excellent colleges and several great fits for each student.