Why Doing Research About Colleges Increases Your College Experience - Friday's Scholarship Guide

by Dominic Tinodi

Doing research about colleges gives you an important idea about where you could see yourself taking your bachelor's degree. This week's Friday's Scholarship Guide will be about why and how to best compare colleges, including two website suggestions, which will make your search a fun and entertaining activity.

Photo credit: Geethmala

For thousands of young students each year, this time of the year is a period of applying for undergraduate programs at various colleges. With application deadlines approaching fast, many will submit and then anxiously await the admissions office's notification come spring. Whether students are admitted to their dream college depends quote a lot on their shortlist of colleges to which they applied.

1. Why research colleges?

For the typical incoming student-athlete freshman, establishing a shortlist of colleges to apply to will be done differently: coaches indicate their interest, coaches offer scholarships to prospective students, or the shortlist is created on the basis of the attractiveness of the sports team. Read more about this in one of our previous articles. However, student-athletes should also have a large interest in doing research about various colleges. Check out below why that is and how you could profit from it.

College experience

In the perfect world students stay at the same college for the entire period of four years of undergrad school. Needless to say, there are many, many different aspects of college life, which contribute to students' happiness and well being during college life. Where is the college located? What does the student body look like? How large is the college? Endless statistics and facts offer insights before applying and help ensure that students apply to those colleges, where they could imagine living during one of the most important time of their lives.

You can have the most excellent college coach, but still not like the overall college experience. You can have the perfect athletic scholarship deal, but still not love your college pick. Reason enough to do some additional work and identify a college that offers all of it: Your personal ideal scholarship offer, a coach you trust and like, and on top of all the college of your dreams. People are different and so are their preferences for where to study. Some may love studying in a giant city like New York, whereas others would hate it and rather study in a small town of 30,000 people. Some may enjoy the experience of studying on a campus of 50,000 students, whereas others regard it perfectly fine to study on a 1,000 student campus.

Transfer student

Each year a large number of students transfer to other schools; even so the case for student-athletes. That's perfectly fine and often makes a lot of sense. The advantages are often phenomenal: Athletes transfer to equally strong teams, but enjoy the new college setting to a much greater extent. In other cases athletes transfer because they can finally study what they really crave for.

Looking at potential disadvantages a transfer is not always for the better and may in fact lead to you ending up with a (slightly) worse scholarship package. There are many reasons why transferring isn't the most straightforward thing, but we'll cover that in another edition of Friday's Scholarship Guide. For today, it's enough to focus on the fact that coaches will often question why you want to transfer and attempt to find out what's gone wrong at your old college. In addition, sports-governing bodies like the NCAA impose clear rules and regulations as to how transfer students need to proceed and how they may be communicated with.

A lower scholarship is acceptable to many, as they ascribe more value to the right college experience than to money, and that's totally understandable. But, you could have both! And how you could have both is by doing your thorough research and compare colleges before making a decision. What's in it for you is that you give yourself a greater chance of having the perfect college match right from the start, without the risk of losing out on scholarship money.

2. How to best go about

Luckily, there are some awesome online services that make your research super easy and convenient. Two of them we'd like to present below, in case you haven't heard of them yet:

College Board

College Board manages the SAT and also provides vast information of collected statistics on US universities. The database provides all sort of information you will find highly useful, when comparing colleges. You will find info such as:

- Application deadlines

- Study programs (majors) and learning environment

- Campus life

- Admission requirements

- Costs of studying

In addition, there's a section specifically for international students, which helps compare TOEFL requirements as well as tuition fees for Internationals, which can differ from those for American students.

As any incoming freshman will have to take the SAT or ACT scholastic test, paying a visit to their website is a great idea and you'll easily find yourself getting lost in the many fascinating facts about schools.

Applymap.com

applymap is a young company, which built a program that lets you identify the most interesting colleges for you based on the information you enter. You fill the program with your personal data, test scores, and GPA and it matches your profile with colleges based on their admissions criteria. You will see your chances of being admitted, the fit with your profile, and you can dig deeper into various schools' profiles. Some of the profiles even include virtual tours, which we think is a great feature, given that you will often not get a chance to visit each college you apply to.

applymap is still in the build-up phase, so keep an eye on what its team is coming up with, and we're excited to see how it can positively affect young students' "application life".

University information

Finally, the two above resources aggregate information, put together from the institutions' resources and websites. We definitely recommend you to check out the schools' websites in more detail, once you have identified that you like what you've heard about them. Especially for all you athletes out there, coaches will provide you with a great deal of information about the school itself, the team, and all its other advantages. Keep in mind though that disadvantages or weak sides of the school clearly will not be their key focus. One more reason for you to get your research right, don't you think? :)

Conclusion

Summing up today's blog article, we go with what applymap states on their website:

"The more you know, the better off you will be when it is time to pick your college list."

No reason to come up with something different, as we think this is pin-sharp for what we wanna emphasize with today's topic. However, one thing to add would be that "The more you know, the better off you will be when it is time to pick your college list and the greater your chance of finding your perfect college." As always, feel free to contact us for any questions you may have, and we're happy to help!

Sign up for our Newsletter

Search in Blog

Articles by Tags