Deciding which colleges to apply to this fall, Part 1: Top 5 Worst Reasons to Choose a College

Post By: COYD Staff
Dated: June 16, 2010

choose a collegeThe summer is a good time to start planning which schools you will be applying to this fall. There are probably 1-2 schools out there that most of you have been eyeing for awhile but with competition increasing every year, I would recommend applying to more than 1-2 schools. For most students, I recommend 8-10 schools. For students who have a hard time paying for the college application fee, you might be eligible for fee waivers. Go to the College Board website, to learn more about the waiver.

Of these 8-10 schools, make sure you apply to schools of differing competition levels:

– 2-3 of the schools should be SAFETY schools. A safety school is a college that you will almost certainly get into because your test scores, class rank, and/or high school grades are well above average when you look at the school’s profile.

– 4 of these schools should be MATCH schools. A match school is a college that you are pretty likely to get into because your test scores, class rank, and/or high school grades fall right into the middle range when you look at the school’s profile.

– 2-3 schools should be REACH schools. A reach school is a college that you have a chance of getting into but your test scores, class rank, and/or high school grades are a bit on the low side when you look at the school’s profile.

Note: I would put the Top 10 nationally ranked schools in all students’ REACH category. Grades and SAT scores are not enough to get students into the Top 10 nationally ranked schools. As you know there are plenty of students who both scored perfect scores on the SAT and were valedictorian who were rejected from the Top 10 nationally ranked schools.

When choosing these 8-10 schools, don’t pick the schools because of the following reasons:

1. Your boyfriend/girlfriend is going there.

This doesn’t necessarily pertain to every student out there. Some students are mature beyond their years and they know exactly what they want, who they are and who they want to be with for the rest of their life. Unfortunately, the majority of students don’t fall into that category when they are 18 years old. Many times, the student who had to sacrifice their college to attend their significant other’s college grows bitter during their college career. Worst case, the couple breaks up and now one of the students is at a college that they didn’t really want to be at. College is a time where you can solidify who you are and grow socially and academically. That time actually will make your relationship even stronger if you guys are meant to be together.

2. It has a good football team.

Believe it or not this is a reason why many people want to attend certain schools. If you are an athlete, this factor is important. However, to those students who are merely spectators, don’t make a good football team a determining factor for choosing a college.

3. The school has a name brand.

Like I said in an earlier post, the Ivy League is not always the answer. Sometimes a name-brand school is the best choice; however, sometimes it is not. Jay Matthews from the Washington Post wrote an article about how he attended an Ivy League school and he states that if he had attended a school that chosen a college with a better journalism program and not his Ivy League college, he would probably be farther along in his career.

4. It has a low tuition.

This factor does not need to enter into the process this early on in the game. Once you receive acceptance letters and financial aid packages, then you should evaluate which college is worth the money. It is a huge misconception that private colleges are only for the rich. In my last post, I laid out several of the nation’s top colleges that have automatic need-based guaranteed scholarships for students who need financial aid.

5. It’s a party school.

Do I need to explain? I fully understand partying is part of the college experience. But just so you know, most colleges out there, with exception of a few, have parties on campus and off campus. You or your parents will be spending a lot of money to pay for college. Unless you plan to be a college party planner, choosing a college solely based on their party school ranking will probably not contribute to the return on your college tuition investment.

Next post, we will discuss the Top 5 Best reasons to choose a college.


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