Your Own College Rankings

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Customize You College List by Developing Your Own Rankings Method

A constant concern of universities, and the media, is the next list of college rankings. Where will an institution land on a list with other “top” colleges, and which schools will be a surprise top 5?

Whether you’re looking at U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, or The Princeton Review, you can get an idea of how colleges compare to one another based on a number of factors, including competitiveness, cost, and overall appeal.

Although these lists can be a helpful reference, they should not be the “be-all and end-all” of deciding which college you would like to apply to and attend. College lists are not one-size-fits-all, so while a “#1” sounds attractive, in reality, it might not be the best place for you. Instead, you should make your own rankings of universities based on which aspects you consider most important.

Some things to think about are:

Academics

This is the most important part of deciding where you would like to go. If a university doesn’t offer a program in your area of interest, it’s probably not going a good-fit. Certain universities may specialize in your major, or have a program that suits your needs more than others. Also look into the professors that will teach your courses as these people will be your mentors in the process of earning your degree.

Location

Whether you want to be close to home, far away, in the sun, in the snow, near a beach, etc. are all important aspects to consider. If you want to be able to travel home easily, it’s a good idea to set a distance limit and only look at schools within that limit. If you worry about finances, it may benefit you to look into institutions that would offer you in-state tuition. If you plan on going to school far from home, it might be a good idea to research how you would get to and from school. Location is a major factor in the decision, and something to think about when creating your list.

Size

Consider where you would feel most comfortable. If you want a Big 10 school for its sports culture, understand that you will be one among many in large lecture halls. Whereas, if you want a small liberal arts college, you will have smaller classes, but there may be fewer resources, and fewer options of things to do or organizations to join. It’s important to consider the pros and cons of both, but the decision of which is better is a matter of personal preference. Once you know where you will feel most comfortable, schools that fit this requirement will rank higher on your list.

Extracurricular Activities

College isn’t just about going to class and hanging out with friends – it’s important to get involved! This is both because this is a great part of the college experience and because future employers will like to see how you were an asset to your campus. Maybe you want to play in a club sport or varsity sport, or lead protests in a political group, or volunteer at a soup kitchen. No matter what type of organization you are drawn to, it’s important to be sure that the schools you consider offer organizations you would join.

Student Body

Visiting a school and looking at the student body is very important. Certain schools draw certain types of students, and it’s important to know if you are one of them. When you tour, don’t just look at the buildings, see who the students are and consider if they are the type of people you would be friends with. These will be your peers for four years, maybe more!

Create Your Own Rankings

A great way to see how the schools you’re interested in stack up against one another is by creating your own rankings method. One way to do this is to create a chart compares the above criteria, with others you also consider, of each school to see which meets most of your preferences.

After visiting a school and doing extensive research, sit down with your chart and place a “+” in the box if you liked that certain aspect of the college, or a “–-“if you didn’t. If you’re not sure, just place a “0” in the corresponding box. Tally up the “+” at the end to get your score for that school. Colleges with higher scores go to the top of your list, while colleges with lower points go to the bottom.

By creating this visual and quantitative element, you’ll be able to keep a running pro/con list and will help you remember what you liked about each school when it comes time to write your essays. For example:

 

 

College

 

 

Academics

 

Location

 

Size

 

Extra-curriculars

 

Student Body

 

Total

Hogwarts College

 

 

+

 

+

 

0

 

+

 

+

 

4

University of Narnia

 

 

+

 

+

 

 

 

+

 

3

Panem State

 

 

 

 

 

 

+

 

0

 

+

 

2

 

Of course, this chart is just one thing to consider when building your balanced college list. Remember to consider what’s most important to you because, while it’s helpful to have a quantitative tool, not every decision should be made in black and white. Your school should be what you want, because in the end, #1 on your list is all that matters!

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