narrowing down college options

Posted : September 10, 2009
Last Updated : September 10, 2009

narrowing down college options

Finding a college that "fits" means taking into account majors, study abroad programs, internship opportunities, career placement success rates, and much more. Compiling data from many different schools can be challenging if you're relying on marketing materials or information received during a campus visit.

One easy way to get a snapshot of a potential school is to review its Common Data Set. These uniform reporting documents, which are provided by many four-year colleges and universities, contain a wealth of information, including admission rates, financial aid sources, high school course requirements and recommendations, and more.

Here's a sampling of the information you'll find on a Common Data Set form:

  • The relative importance placed on various factors in an application review.
  • Freshman class profiles showing average GPA, ACT scores, and class rank, which allow you to see your relative chances of being admitted.
  • Tuition, room and board costs, and estimated expenses (books, transportation and others).
  • How financial aid is determined (using federal methodology, an institutional methodology or both), and how much and what kinds of financial aid (loans, scholarships, need-based, meritbased) are awarded.

These forms quickly tell students whether or not the school fits with their graduation goals, skills and ability to afford a school. To locate, type "Common Data Set" into the search function on each school's website.

Source: ACT's News You Can Use


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