Tips and Tricks for Choosing a College

By Sarah Asch

The last week of March is a strange time to be a senior– people start to get into schools, college goes from a taboo topic that nobody will discuss to the only thing anyone wants to talk about. The fear of being rejected is transformed into the agony of having to choose between whatever options you have open come April 1. While the standard reasons (location and cost) are certainly valid reasons to pick one college over another, if you are anything like me, you will have several very similar schools to choose between. Granted, this is absolutely one of the better problems to have when it comes to the college admissions process, but it can still be difficult to choose between good schools. After struggling with this monumental decision, and watching my classmates do the same, I have collected a list of useful tips for future Tam students with a similar dilemma.
The experience of visiting a school when you know it is one of your choices is invaluable, and completely different from visiting when you have not yet been accepted. I did the majority of my visits after I had already gotten in, and I would highly recommend that route to others, not least because you get to meet other prospective students.

Talk to Current Students:
Alumni can be good resources too, but nothing can replace the value of talking to a current student about their experience. This is one of the best ways to get an honest perspective of life on campus. Don’t forget to ask them about both the pros and the cons of their school.

Learn how to read between the lines of the pamphlet:
The promotional materials that a school puts out are heavily skewed, and for good reason. One of the most important statistics to a college is what percentage of students that they accept actually end up attending. Still, there can be useful information among all the propaganda, so make sure you are reading the brochures carefully and critically.

Read their online newspaper:
Perhaps the least conventional way to learn about a school, checking out their online newspaper, is one of the sneakiest ways to learn about a school’s culture because the paper is not being produced to lure prospective students. In particular, look at the opinion section to see what issues students are talking about. If you go this route, though, remember that each story only represents one person’s or a handful of people’s views, and not the entire school.