Narrowing your top # list of colleges can be very difficult. Simply doing extensive research on each school can only get you so far. So, why not passionately "date" these school to find your true love :). To help narrow my search, I used a few college ranking websites and compared colleges for hours. Then I started focusing on two main aspects: Financial Aid and Campus life.
Financial Aid is a huge topic when applying to college. In some cases it can even be the deal breaker when deciding between your top two. My list of twelve quickly dwindled to four after putting financial restrictions that my parents were comfortable with. One thing I'm super happy that I didn't to was to be intimidated by the tuition rates. Why? Things turn out a lot differently once financial aid award letters are handed out, so do your research on which schools can provide for you financially the most! You do not want to be the student that’s quick to sign the loan promissory note before finding that out first.
In my case, after recieving my financial aid award letter, I wrote not one but two financial aid appeal letters to the financial aid department; yes you can do that! Due to extenuating financial circumstances at the time, that was the only viable option for my parents and me. When I tried the same plan with another school, their response were pretty shallow. On the other hand with RIT, I really felt cared for and respected. At the end of the day my concerns were taken care of and my awarded financial aid was increased!
Also, there is no such thing as being too forward when dating a college. Do not be afraid to ask the questions, no matter how personal it may seem. Remember, this relationship may span for the next 4 to 5 years so make sure you're comunicating effectively. With this being said, actions do speak louder than words so why not meet in person to get a feel of what things will be like.
How do you plan on being in a relationship with a college when you haven’t really met? College ranking websites or even collegeboard.com can only go so far; so really make an effort to visit the campus, and while you’re there hop on an informative campus tour. Here, you can ask a tour guide (usually current students) any questions you’d like about student life. This may sound wierd but, they are already in a relationship with your possible match, so ask them as many questions as you'd like. As a tour guide at RIT, I can definitely see a big difference between only using the information from websites and actually coming up for a visit. In my humble/unbiased opinion, Campus tours are AWESOME! :)
But seriously, what better way to find out whether or not you would be in a happy relationship with a school, than hearing it from someone already in a relationship with the school!!! (not weird at all)
At the same time, there are a few that just cannot make it; I know the struggle. At times traveling to the campus you are applying to can be nearly impossible. You have sports, student government, big events, etc. So then what do you do?? Two words, “virtual tour”! Although not as effective as hearing it from a knowledgeable tour guide, virtual tours can still be very effective. I was able to gather tons of information on the schools I applied to from simply taking a few virtual tours!
For more questions regarding college or RIT at me on twitter, add me @RIT_Daniel & Have a Blessed Day!