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What to Consider When Finding Your Ideal College

As you embark on your journey towards higher education, Uprooted Academy is here to support you in breaking down barriers and ensuring equal access to college opportunities. One important step in your college application process is finding the perfect fit – a place where you'll thrive academically, socially, and emotionally. This blog explores how you can discover your ideal college fit by considering various factors. Let's dive in!

1. Embrace Your Passions and Interests

Finding the right college begins with understanding your passions and interests. What subjects excite you? What extracurricular activities bring you joy? Do you see yourself as a future engineer, artist, or entrepreneur? As you figure out which majors interest you, you’ll want to check out our YouTube playlist of videos, with insider tips from college graduates on their experience with their major.

Websites like BigFuture, Cappex and the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard are great resources that can also help. Big Future allows you to filter colleges based on your desired major, location, and more. Cappex lets you research schools as well as scholarships. And finally, College Scorecard can help you search and compare colleges, including details about the school’s graduation rate, average annual cost, and the median earnings of graduates.

For example, if you're passionate about environmental issues, consider colleges with strong environmental science programs and research opportunities. Look for institutions that offer sustainable initiatives on campus and engage in community outreach programs to tackle environmental challenges.

2. Celebrate Diversity and Inclusivity

Diversity makes the world more colorful, and college is no exception. Let's find you a college that embraces your unique background and lets you connect with people from all walks of life. For example, some colleges have cultural centers that celebrate different heritages, providing a safe space for students from diverse backgrounds to connect and share their experiences. You can also look for schools that have inclusive housing options and host events that celebrate multiculturalism, fostering an environment where everyone feels welcome and appreciated.

Websites like Niche and Unigo offer insights into campus demographics, providing data on student diversity and inclusivity initiatives. You can also connect with current students from underrepresented backgrounds through social media or college forums. They can offer valuable insights into their college experience, provide tips for navigating the college environment, and share their experiences with available support. College Confidential even has a forum specifically for African-American and Hispanic students.

3. Seek a Supportive Campus Culture

College life extends beyond academics, and your happiness will depend on the campus culture and support available. In terms of culture, some colleges have a strong focus on community service, encouraging students to engage in meaningful volunteering opportunities. Others might be known for their vibrant arts scene, with student-run theater groups and art exhibits.

With regards to student support services, consider colleges that offer mentorship programs, peer tutoring, and academic advising to support students throughout their academic journey. Look for institutions that prioritize mental health and well-being by providing counseling services, stress-relief programs, and wellness centers. UC Berkeley's "Undocumented Student Program" is an example of a dedicated team providing legal and financial guidance to students, ensuring they can focus on their education without undue stress.

4. Find Financial Fit

No doubt, finances play a major role in your college decision. But don't let money be a roadblock to your dreams! Check out The Net Price Calculator, available on college websites, to give you an estimate of your out-of-pocket expenses after accounting for financial aid. While almost all colleges offer a net price calculator on their website, you can also use the College Board Net Price Calculator to estimate your net price at hundreds of colleges.

When searching for your dream college, be on the lookout for institutions that offer generous scholarship programs, need-based aid, and work-study opportunities. These valuable resources can make a significant difference in your college journey. For instance, some colleges boast robust need-based financial aid systems, ensuring that high-achieving students from low-income backgrounds can pursue their education without the burden of overwhelming debt. You might want to explore this list of colleges that meet 100% of demonstrated financial need, providing the support you deserve. On the other hand, other colleges offer impressive merit-based scholarships to recognize and reward students for their outstanding achievements. A fantastic resource for discovering colleges that offer generous merit aid and need-based aid is Big J Educational Consulting’s Domestic Financial Aid Chart.

5. Location and Campus Size

The physical environment plays a crucial role in your college experience. Websites like BigFuture and Niche allow you to filter colleges based on location and campus size.

If you love the city vibe and the endless opportunities for cultural exploration, a college located in a metropolitan area – such as New York University (NYU) - might be the perfect fit for you. On the other hand, if you prefer a more intimate setting with a strong sense of community, a small liberal arts college in a rural area – such as Williams College - could be ideal. Embrace the opportunity to explore new environments that resonate with your values and goals.

6. Research Faculty and Academic Opportunities

Your college experience will be greatly influenced by the faculty members you interact with. Look for colleges with renowned professors in your field of interest. Visit department websites to learn about their research, publications, and areas of expertise. Websites like Rate My Professors and LinkedIn also enable you to learn more about professors and their expertise.

Look for institutions that offer undergraduate research opportunities, where students can actively participate in research projects alongside faculty members. Access to research opportunities can deepen your understanding of your chosen field and open doors to future career possibilities.

7. Alumni Success and Networking

The success of alumni can reflect a college's dedication to student growth and preparation for the real world. You can explore the accomplishments of former students through LinkedIn by searching for those who have included the college in their profiles and using filters to narrow down the results.

A college's career center plays a vital role in supporting your professional development. Look for colleges that offer networking events, career fairs, and internships to help you build connections and gain real-world experience during your college years. The availability of alumni networks and professional development resources can greatly enhance your post-graduation prospects.

8. Campus Visits and Virtual Tours

Visiting campuses in person or attending virtual tours is an excellent way to get a feel for each college's atmosphere and community. Many colleges host virtual tours on their official websites, offering a glimpse of facilities, classrooms, and dorms. Take advantage of these opportunities to visualize yourself as a part of each college community. During virtual tours, take note of campus maps and available resources. Look for student testimonials and virtual panels where you can hear about the college experience firsthand from current students.

To discover more about potential schools and have all your questions answered, don’t miss our upcoming virtual college fair on Saturday, September 9! Join us as we connect you with representatives from a diverse array of colleges, providing valuable insights that will guide you in finding the perfect college fit for your future.

Now, go forth and explore! Your dream college awaits, ready to welcome you with open arms. Embrace the journey and remember, your college experience should be as unique as you are. And as you embark on this exciting journey, know that we at Uprooted Academy are here to support you every step of the way. We believe in your abilities and are committed to helping you achieve your college goals. Enroll in our FREE Step-by-Step College Advising Video Course, and let's figure this out together! Access it on:

Best of luck on your exciting college application journey!



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