What's probably the single biggest factor in choosing a college or university? Well, not to put too fine a point on it, but you'll need to pick a college that will accept you. More and more high school grads head off to college every year, and so schools can afford to be more and more selective in their admissions policies. Now, maybe you're sitting there with offers of full scholarships to Harvard, Stanford, and M.I.T., (if so congratulations!) but most people aren't that lucky, and they'll need to face some facts and make some realistic decisions about which schools they can and can't get into. You'll need to know your grade point average, and you'll probably need to have a score from a national standardized test, such as the ACT or SAT. Most colleges and universities require prospective students to take one or the other before applying for admission. Once you've received your score, you can start narrowing your choices down by comparing your score and GPA to the score/GPA of the average student admitted to the school you're considering. Often times you can find this information out on their website, other college websites, or a college directory at the library. This will give you a pretty good indicator of what your chances are. If you've made straight C's, and you got a 21 on the ACT, the chances are very slim that you'll be coming into adulthood at Harvard or Yale. It's important to be realistic, and not kid yourself.
Getting into a good graduate school, business school, law school, or medical school can be just as challenging as getting accepted into a good undergraduate program. The same factors are equally important. Make sure that you pick a program that you think will accept you. Compare your score on the GRE, GMAT, LSAT, or MCAT and GPA to the score/GPA of the average student admitted to that program.
If you need help on those exams, check out these websites:
Applying to colleges costs lots of time and money, and there's no sense in applying to schools where you haven't even got a prayer. But there's no reason to sell yourself short, either. Maybe your numbers are a bit below a school's numbers, but remember, those are averages. They've accepted many people with lower numbers than their average. And schools these days tend to give more weight to such things as extracurricular activities, volunteerism, family situation, hobbies, and well written essays. So if you really want to attend a school, and your numbers are anywhere in the ballpark, give it a shot. You never know, and you might be just the student their looking for to round out their incoming freshman class. This would be your "reach" school-a college or university you hope to qualify for, but you're on the bubble. You might have more than one, depending on your grades, scores, and finances. Of course, you should always have at least one safety school. A safety school is one that you're almost certain to be accepted by given your scores and GPA. Sometimes this is a local community college, but it doesn't have to be. Just make sure you've applied to at least one college which you're positive will accept you, and which you wouldn't mind attending too terribly.
Last Updated: 08/20/2013