Performing Research

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There’s no shortage of data available about the college search. Here are three approaches to gathering the information your family will need to make a solid decision.

Self-reflection

Your student needs to think hard about her hopes and goals for college. Discuss these questions with her:

  • Does she learn best with small or large groups? What size campus does she prefer?
  • Would she prefer to stay close to home or move far away? Does she want to live in an urban, suburban or rural setting? Is a particular region of the country more appealing or conducive to her career goals?
  • Has she identified a major or field of study?
  • Does she want to play a particular sport? At what level of competition (Division I, II or III)?
  • How important is a college’s religious affiliation?

College Guides and Materials

It’s easy to get lost in the many publications, both general and specific, about colleges and the college search. Choose a diverse range sources, but don’t feel obligated to look at everything. The best resources are:

  • High school counselors and guidance libraries. Counselors are familiar with the many college-guide books and sites (like Princeton Review, College That Change Lives and others), and they can steer your student to toward the most helpful publications.
  • Web sites. College search sites are springing up like mushrooms, and their quality varies widely. Help your student evaluate sites to weed out the gossip from the good advice. Two excellent non-commercial site are U-Can (ucan-network.org) and the Department of Education’s College Navigator (nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator).
  • College materials and admissions counselors. Students should request information (brochures, DVD’s, catalogues) from colleges of interest and talk to their admissions counselors. Often, students can learn about multiple schools at events like college fairs, high school visits or area receptions. Parents are also welcome at these events.

Remember: research takes time to conduct and absorb, so don’t try to cram it. Set a timeline for yourself and your student that allows regular intervals of work.

College Visits

Brochures and Web sites give you facts, but nothing helps solidify a decision about college like getting a feel for the campus. There’s no better way for your student to see whether she’ll feel comfortable with the school’s people and environment. Learn more about visiting Rhodes »

For parents and students: sign up for campus tours, information sessions and open houses.

  • For students: stay on campus overnight, attend classes, meet with students and professors and explore the local community.