Before flipping through college view books or logging onto campus websites, students need to begin the process of selecting colleges by examining themselves. Think about the factors that have nurtured your talents and interests. What are the common threads? Small classes? Time with teachers? Straight lecture style? Self-design curriculum? Independent study and research? Do you flourish with presentations and group projects or do you prefer more structured and defined curriculum? Know thyself – it is the key to the college search!
There are many helpful college and career planning online portfolio tools you may wish to use. In addition to the ones listed below, check with your school counseling office to see what tools they may have to assist you.
Some high schools utilize a program called Naviance to help their students complete college searches and career assessments. When purchasing the program, each high school is able to choose which components they wish to buy, so the program can look different from school to school. Each student has their own profile, username and password. Parents are also given their own log-in information so they can view their student’s profile, college list and work completed. For more information about Naviance, or to find out if your high school utilizes it, contact your high school’s school counseling office.
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The College Navigator can help you learn more about institutions you may be interested in, including the types of degrees and programs they offer, admission requirements, campus safety statistics, accreditation information, retention and graduation rates, etc. Published by the U.S. Department of Education.
The College Scorecard provides you and your family with the critical information needed to make smart decisions about where to enroll for higher education. The College Scorecard highlights key indicators about the cost and value of institutions across the country to help you choose a school that is well-suited to meet your needs, priced affordably, and is consistent with your educational and career goals. Published by the U.S. Department of Education.
Big Future by The College Board®
Big Future is a free web tool that combines guidance, tools and information to make college planning easier to navigate and help you overcome barriers that make college seem out of reach. BigFuture features interactive tools and content, including real student video stories and personalized action plans you can save and edit throughout your college search.
This site offers several opportunities to explore your interests, college majors, and different institutions.
A college fair, even a small one, can be overwhelming. There are a lot of students and a lot of college representatives. There is also a lot of noise. However, if you know what to look for and what questions to ask, you can find a wealth of information to help you start narrowing your list of possible colleges. To help you plan your college fair visit, see if you can get a list of the attending schools ahead of time and identify the schools you will want to talk with. Below are some questions you may want to ask the college representative. Choose the ones that are most important to you as you probably won’t have the time to ask all of these.
With over 900 majors to choose from, choosing a college major can be a daunting process. While it is estimated that up to 50% of college students change their major at least once, it is still very important that you have an idea of how your interests and talents may translate into various programs of study. Knowing which major you want can be a very important step in the college selection process, as some schools are geared towards certain disciplines (i.e. business, nursing and engineering schools). Here are a few suggested steps to follow to help you research and choose a college major:
If you still haven’t been able to find the right major before you go to school, do not fear! Since nearly two-thirds of college students begin their first year undecided, you won’t be the only one still searching for that perfect fit. Explore interesting classes during your freshman year. However, be sure to choose colleges with a wide variety of majors so your options aren’t limited when it comes time to make a decision.
In the United States alone, there are over 6,000 different postsecondary institutions offering a variety of programs and degrees. They are categorized in the following way:
Community or Junior College
Example: Saint Anselm College
Example: University of New Hampshire
Open Admission Policy: Accepts all students with a high school diploma or equivalent.
Liberal Admission Campus: Accepts some students ranked in the lower half of the high school graduating class.
Selective/Competitive Admission Campus: Accepts mostly students ranked in the top 50 percent of the class.
Highly/Most Competitive Campus: Accepts mostly students ranked in the top 15-20 percent of the high school graduating class.
Certificate or License: awarded upon completion of a specific short-term course of study.
Associate Degree (Associate of Art, Associate of Science, Associate of Applied Science): degree awarded after the completion of defined coursework. These programs generally encompass two years of full-time study or about 60 credits.
Bachelor’s Degree (Bachelor of Art, Bachelor of Science): programs of study with a concentration in the arts or the sciences. This degree is awarded upon completion of four years of full-time study or the length of time needed to earn 120 credits.
Master’s Degree: an advanced degree awarded beyond the bachelor’s degree. The length of time necessary to complete the requirements of this degree depends upon the course of study and whether the student attends on a full-time or part-time basis. Credit requirements can vary from 36 to 60 depending on the field of study. Common abbreviations for this degree include: MA (Master of Arts), MS (Master of Science), MBA (Master of Business Administration), ME (Master of Engineering), MSW (Master of Social Work) and M.Ed. (Master of Education) to name a few.
Doctoral Degree: awarded for advanced and intensive study in a particular field. Common abbreviations include: MD (Medical Doctor), Pharm.D (Doctor of Pharmacy), PhD (Doctor of Philosophy), DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery), and Ed.D (Doctor of Education) to name a few.
When it comes to exact credit requirements needed for admission to most four-year colleges it will likely vary based on the college choice of the student. Some colleges and universities may put an emphasis in one area while making allowances in others. However, there are some core requirements that all colleges look for in prospective students. Among these core requirements are credits in English, math, science, and social studies. Here is what most colleges are looking for:
English – English is one subject that all four-year colleges and universities will look for from prospective applicants. Many four-year and some two-year schools require four years of English to meet basic admissions entrance requirements. Students who are interested in applying for admission to college should consider taking more writing-intensive courses throughout high school. These may not be an entrance requirement, but they will certainly make your application to college look pristine. The same is true for advanced placement classes (AP) and honors classes. These can sometimes boost your application and are sometimes a prerequisite to highly selective colleges and universities.
Math – Math is another subject that is absolutely needed to get into most four-year colleges. Similar to English, college admission committees want to see at least three to four years of a math, swaying more to four with highly selective schools. Your math credits should include algebra, geometry, and at least one or more highly advanced level of math. Like with English, honors and advanced placement courses will also help your application.
Science – The Science requirement of four-year colleges will likely vary depending on the applicant and the major selected. Traditionally, only two to three years of science are required for admission. The decision rests in the hands of the admissions committee as to how many years they are looking for. It's advised to prospective students to take either physical science, biology, chemistry, or earth science, making sure that they have a lab as well. National requirements tend to look for prospective students to take physics; however, most will also look at anatomy and physiology as well. If students are looking to break into a health care or science-based field, it's in their best interest to make sure they have higher-level sciences.
Social Studies – Colleges and Universities all have different entrance requirements on the subject of social studies. Most four-year colleges would like to see at least three years of social studies. Highly competitive colleges would like to see more than three years. The classes in this area include world history, civics, economics, and United States history.
Electives – Core classes are not the only credit requirements needed to get into college. Colleges also look at what elective classes applicants have taken in high school. Some schools require at least two years of a foreign language. More than two years of a foreign language would obviously look better in the eyes of admissions committees. In addition to foreign language, colleges are also looking for credits it fine arts such as music and dance. This is especially true for entrance into a major that relies heavily on fine arts.
To graduate from high school there may also be required physical education classes or school-based senior projects. Make sure to talk to your school counselor to make sure that you are on target to graduate, but also on target to gain admission into your major of choice. Also, make sure to go beyond graduation requirements and strive for excellence by challenging yourself as you work toward achieving your higher education goals.
Colleges evaluate applications in very different ways depending on how selective, or competitive, the particular college is. At one extreme are “open admission” colleges. These schools require only a high school diploma and accept students until the seats are filled. At the other extreme are very selective colleges that consider many or all of the factors found on this page. Most colleges fall somewhere in between these two extremes.
In the review of applicants, primary emphasis is most always placed on your academic record as demonstrated by the quality and level of college preparatory coursework and achievement. While each college may have its own set of admissions criteria, the following is a list of other potential qualifying information:
This program allows students to alternate between semesters of learning in the classroom and semesters of learning in the workplace. The co-op experiences are connected to the student’s major and are almost always paid. It should also be noted, however, that five years is usually required to complete the bachelor’s degree when one’s studies are conjoined with working in a co-op program.
An articulation agreement that enables students enrolled at one college to enroll in courses at another institution without formally applying for admission to the second institution.
This program gives students the chance to gain on-the-job experience while earning academic credit. Internships can last from one semester to one year and are often unpaid. These internships can lead to rewarding job opportunities after graduating from college.
Students continue their college education in another country through this program. Students have the opportunity to study for a semester or a full-year with foreign faculty, learning another language, and understanding another culture. Students may also have the option to study abroad with the Semester at Sea Program that enables students to live, study, and work aboard a ship at sea – usually a research vessel. This program allows for on-site research and discovery. Get information on more than 80 study abroad programs in 31 countries at ccisabroad.org.
Honors program participants are those who seek academic challenges, enjoy close company of fellow classmates, and are invigorated by the pursuit of knowledge. Students in these programs are given a heavier workload and are faced with greater demands on their time. However, the educational benefits to this program are great – smaller, accelerated classes; independent study; and research opportunities.
3-2/Joint Degree Program:
This type of program has become increasingly popular. Students can increase their course load and earn undergraduate and graduate/first professional degrees in less than the usual amount of time. For example, replacing elective courses with core courses enables the student to graduate with a master’s degree within five years.
Programs designed to augment the service academies in producing leaders for the armed forces. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps pay 100% tuition, books, fees, and a stipend to eligible college students.
Services for LD Students:
Intended to assist undergraduate students in achieving their academic potential and maximizing their educational experience, academic support services are available at most colleges for students with learning disabilities, as well as all other students. These services range from ongoing individualized learning skills instruction in topics such as time management, note-taking, and test-taking to drop-in tutoring and private studying areas. For more details, click here.
The competitive nature of intramural sports events is characterized as informal, but their intensity remains very high in reality. Generally, these activities are open to all students who form their own teams and sign up for leagues that are appropriate for their skill level. Intramural activities may sometimes extend beyond the walls of the institution. Such "extramural" activities can include everything from sports clubs which compete with other clubs off campus to play days that integrate students from different schools into competition/participation units.
Are you looking for a fun experience that will benefit you now and for the rest of your life? Why not trying living and studying abroad? Completely immerse yourself in a foreign culture, increase your self confidence, and meet new people. Many students have noted that the experience of studying abroad has completely changed their life.
International Education of Students (IES) released a survey that showed 96% of students in their program who traveled abroad reported an increase in self confidence. While abroad, you will be living and interacting with foreign people daily. You will become more comfortable adapting to new surroundings and situations, as well as learning a new language. Throughout your experience abroad you will develop friendships with both students and locals. Creating friendships with the locals is a great way to expand your perspective on life, and view the world through another culture.
The IES survey also shows that 80% of students reported an enhanced interest in their academic studies. Educational experiences are very different abroad. Universities abroad are less focused on grades and more focused on understanding the material and gaining knowledge. You will be expected to take responsibility for your own learning. This educational approach rejuvenates students and their desire to learn.
Studying abroad will offer benefits after you graduate as well. These experiences offer a great addition to a resume, especially in careers involving international affairs. “An entire range of professional opportunities have opened up to me in recent years, partly due to the skills and internship experiences I gained,” says Joydeep Sengupta, a student from IES.
In addition to IES, the U.S. State Department has developed an informational website regarding traveling outside of the United States, including detailed information broken down by country.
Can I apply federal financial aid to costs for studying abroad?
Yes. Generally, all federal financial aid, excluding Federal Work Study, should be available as long as students are earning credits toward their degrees while abroad. This includes Pell Grants, guaranteed student loans, and PLUS Loans. Some states also allow state financial aid to go with students abroad; however, you should talk to your study abroad or financial aid office about policies with regard to state and institutional aid.
Does studying abroad impact my chances of graduating on time?
In most cases, so long as it is an approved study abroad program through your college’s or university’s study abroad office, it will not impact your ability to graduate on time. However, you should consult your academic advisor before making plans in order to discuss which classes you should take during your abroad experience and how those classes will help you stay on track academically.
Is it safe to study abroad?
As with any foreign travel it is important to do a little research on the social climate before committing to a program. You can find information on every country including its crime rates at: https://travel.state.gov/content/studentsabroad/en.html.
Do I need to speak the language of the corresponding country I am studying in?
Though this would obviously be a benefit, it is not a requirement for most programs. Most approved programs will be delivered in English, unless they involve studying a particular foreign language. However, it is recommended you learn some of the basics; that way, your time in that particular country can be as enjoyable and stress-free as possible.
A net price calculator is a tool to help students and families compare the possible cost of one college to another and is usually found on the college’s admissions or financial aid page. Net price calculators will offer a calculated estimate of financial aid based on a prospective student’s family financial information. Some colleges will also allow students to include their GPA and standardized test scores in order to give a family an estimate of merit scholarship eligibility. Once a college determines the amount of aid they are able to provide, they subtract that from the college’s full cost, giving your family a net price. This net price is the estimated amount that the student and/or their family must pay for him or her to enroll.