According to the National Center for Education Statistics, freshman enrollment in degree-granting institutions increased by 48 percent form 1995 to 2009 and is projected to grow 11 percent between 2009 and 2020. With more college applicants vying for a relatively static supply of freshman slots, it’s no wonder that high school students and their parents have a hard time avoiding the college application frenzy. But it can be done.
Here are ten ways:
- Recognize that colleges want what they don’t have. For example, colleges in New England have lots of applicants from New England. So, wherever you live, consider schools further away from home and a world of opportunity opens up. Only the group of most elite schools such as Brown, Princeton, Harvard, Duke, Northwestern, Stanford, University of Pennsylvania, and Washington University in St. Louis, are extremely difficult to get into no matter where you live.
- Investigate honors programs at state universities if you are a strong student. Not only do these schoolsoffer a quality education, they also offer good value for the money. Check out honors programs at University of Vermont, Delaware, Texas at Austin, and Massachusetts to name a few.
- Visit the site & get the book Colleges that Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College. Written by retired New York Times education editor, Loren Pope, the book is a great resource for families looking for schools that, “Excel at developing potential, values, initiative, and risk-taking.” The organization dismisses college rankings based on test scores and alumni giving as valid indicators of quality, and instead focuses on schools that value collaborative learning, a strong sense of community, student potential, and other criteria.
- Rest assured that over 800 colleges and universities in the United States do not require standardized tests to apply. Go to www.fairtest.org to view the list of school that believe that “test scores do not equal merit.”
- Heed Malcolm Gladwell’s advice outlined in his book, David and Goliath. This best-selling author counsels against attending a famous university for the name value. He posits that people are generally better off choosing to be part of a lesser-known organization where they have a greater chance of standing out.
- Look at adults around you. I bet you’ll find successful and satisfied men and women who went to colleges other than the Ivy League, NESCAC and other highly competitive institutions.
- Think: ”fit, fit, fit.” While real estate is all about location, location, location, college selection is about finding the list of schools that fits your values, learning style, academic interests, financial situation, athletic interests, preference for cities versus remote countryside…
- You are not bound to the first college you attend. You may find that for whatever reason that you'd like to transfer schools down the line. Matter of fact, according to the National Association for College Admissions Counseling’s 2010 report, one in three students choses to transfer from a two or four year institution.
- Remember there are approximately 2,500 four-year colleges and universities. And that’s in the U.S. alone.
- Admit it, there is not one perfect anything. College, friend, relative, city, state, country…
And here’s the bonus, if all ten ideas fail or you’re just in need of a little levity, take BuzzFeed’s online test, “Which College Should You Actually Go To?”