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So far I've just been going onto the usnews rankings and exploring from the top down.. if i find one that interests me I read the description in the Fiske college guide and then I search "___ university pros cons" and then (in light of quarantine) and if it still seems good I search if they're hosting virtual information sessions.
But this doesn't work as well for non-US colleges (I am also exploring those). How do I find good international colleges??

But dude! I've no idea what I'm doing! Does anyone have experience in this? I'm the oldest sibling so it's all new territory. Please, any advice is welcome, and if you can just describe how you went about searching for colleges, that would be nice.
I'm a junior btw.
 

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adding: i know a lot of articles say to figure out what you want in a college, i've gone through those. i have a rough idea of what i want but honestly, what do i know.
i'd like to know how you personally went about discovering potential colleges and going through them.
 

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I looked for a college within my state's public school system. I had already known which public schools were considered best academically, but for the most part my college search flowed from my choice of study. I took to choosing the school that had a clear merit-based scholarship that I could used to save money. The only problem was the college wasn't that good, maybe I would give them a C+ or B- at best. But at the time of selection I was predominantly concerned by the fact that I didn't see any obvious scholarships so I neglected to take risks with schools that had superior reputations. Another factor was the area of the college, it was rural and I wanted to live remotely from my normal home so it had a nice relaxing effect.

If I were you, I'd find out what major I want to study and then I would pick a college. Maybe this time worry less about the specific name of the degree and more about the reputation and quality of the institution offering it as well. I completely blinded myself to the majority of schools of because I was told to not a get a degree named X even though that degree name was far more common at the time than what I was looking for. That might be a personal issue though, at least I saved money in the long run it might matter more.
 

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I looked for a college within my state's public school system. I had already known which public schools were considered best academically, but for the most part my college search flowed from my choice of study. I took to choosing the school that had a clear merit-based scholarship that I could used to save money. The only problem was the college wasn't that good, maybe I would give them a C+ or B- at best. But at the time of selection I was predominantly concerned by the fact that I didn't see any obvious scholarships so I neglected to take risks with schools that had superior reputations. Another factor was the area of the college, it was rural and I wanted to live remotely from my normal home so it had a nice relaxing effect.

If I were you, I'd find out what major I want to study and then I would pick a college. Maybe this time worry less about the specific name of the degree and more about the reputation and quality of the institution offering it as well. I completely blinded myself to the majority of schools of because I was told to not a get a degree named X even though that degree name was far more common at the time than what I was looking for. That might be a personal issue though, at least I saved money in the long run it might matter more.

I'm maybe the opposite of you, I've been paying attention to the reputation and quality of the institution a lot. My parents don't see the point in paying 50k for a US college that isn't very good. I might as well go to McGill/Canda or the UK or Europe where it's so much cheaper, then! Well, that's their pov. For reference, I go to a French-American high school. And I do have a chance of getting into one of the better universities, I think, but who knows.

Yeah, a big problem is that I don't know exactly what I want to do. I do know i want to do something in the general domain of medicine/biology/psychology type of field, and I don't want to eventually do research. Ah. Sigh.

Thanks.
 

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Oh, fun. Congrats on getting to this process! I loved school "shopping". I hope you can find some joy in it.

When I began researching schools I was tracking premed but otherwise undecided. My uncle gifted me several enormous books of college information at the beginning of my junior year (I think Fiske was one). I pored over every description in the books and, after a lot of reading, I concluded I wanted to go to a liberal arts university with good academics, art, and a socially-progressive climate. That helped me narrow down. I made a short list of schools that appealed to me most, and my parents and I planned trips so we could tour their campuses. It was illuminating to speak to students and staff and to hear how the universities billed themselves during tours. I was surprised to discover some things including that competitive elitism was quite tangible at some universities and far less at others. I realized that the environment of the school mattered to me - I preferred a tighter-knit campus/community. Anticlimactically, I encountered health issues mid-junior-year. Despite my solid test scores, I worried that my final grades weren't enough to get into some of the schools I had initially toured, so I didn't even try applying to all of them (don't do this, lol). Luckily my parents helped me choose a lesser-known gem of a school where I had an excellent experience.

What I would say from my experience and connecting with many friends in years following is that I think while where you go can matter, it also matters - and arguably matters much more - what you do there. I would encourage you to find a school where you feel like opportunities that engage and excite you - student organizations, research, internships, extracurriculars, academic honors, etc. - are within reach, regardless of whether they correlate with an eventual major or not. You can always transfer schools, which is surprisingly easy, if and when you choose a track and realize there is another school that may have a better offering for that particular major (and realistically you may end up looking at graduate school anyway). IMO, the weight of selecting a college sometimes seems blown out of proportion. Looking back now, I think it matters as a piece of the puzzle of your life moreso than it does in specificity. It is a resource and a tool. It matters less what it is and more how you use it.

citronnade said:
How do I find good international colleges??
A nearby public university might be able to get you connected to some good international colleges that they partner with. For example, the public schools in my state work cooperatively so they share a huge study abroad network. You could potentially start the hunt by scheduling a meeting (probably virtual RN) with the study abroad office at university local to you. I remember considering studying in Grenoble... I ended up elsewhere, but would still love to go there someday! Since you are studying at a French-American school, do they have any connections?
 

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Oh, fun. Congrats on getting to this process! I loved school "shopping". I hope you can find some joy in it.

When I began researching schools I was tracking premed but otherwise undecided. My uncle gifted me several enormous books of college information at the beginning of my junior year (I think Fiske was one). I pored over every description in the books and, after a lot of reading, I concluded I wanted to go to a liberal arts university with good academics, art, and a socially-progressive climate. That helped me narrow down. I made a short list of schools that appealed to me most, and my parents and I planned trips so we could tour their campuses. It was illuminating to speak to students and staff and to hear how the universities billed themselves during tours. I was surprised to discover some things including that competitive elitism was quite tangible at some universities and far less at others. I realized that the environment of the school mattered to me - I preferred a tighter-knit campus/community. Anticlimactically, I encountered health issues mid-junior-year. Despite my solid test scores, I worried that my final grades weren't enough to get into some of the schools I had initially toured, so I didn't even try applying to all of them (don't do this, lol). Luckily my parents helped me choose a lesser-known gem of a school where I had an excellent experience.

What I would say from my experience and connecting with many friends in years following is that I think while where you go can matter, it also matters - and arguably matters much more - what you do there. I would encourage you to find a school where you feel like opportunities that engage and excite you - student organizations, research, internships, extracurriculars, academic honors, etc. - are within reach, regardless of whether they correlate with an eventual major or not. You can always transfer schools, which is surprisingly easy, if and when you choose a track and realize there is another school that may have a better offering for that particular major (and realistically you may end up looking at graduate school anyway). IMO, the weight of selecting a college sometimes seems blown out of proportion. Looking back now, I think it matters as a piece of the puzzle of your life moreso than it does in specificity. It is a resource and a tool. It matters less what it is and more how you use it.



A nearby public university might be able to get you connected to some good international colleges that they partner with. For example, the public schools in my state work cooperatively so they share a huge study abroad network. You could potentially start the hunt by scheduling a meeting (probably virtual RN) with the study abroad office at university local to you. I remember considering studying in Grenoble... I ended up elsewhere, but would still love to go there someday! Since you are studying at a French-American school, do they have any connections?
Thanks, that was very informational!
For me, school shopping is quite stressful for whatever reason (idk why, can't help it) so I don't do it much. I think I should dedicate a certain time during the week to do it.. It would be less hard if I just started doing it more.
 

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Thanks, that was very informational!
For me, school shopping is quite stressful for whatever reason (idk why, can't help it) so I don't do it much. I think I should dedicate a certain time during the week to do it.. It would be less hard if I just started doing it more.
That sounds like a great idea! :) Back when I was applying, myself and my classmates were very encouraged by our advisors to initially identify a couple "safety schools" - schools that you are very likely to be admitted to and that wouldn't be a stretch distance-wise/financially/culturally/etc. I remember that being a helpful starting place for me - sort of a "sandbox" to play in before moving on to more complex endeavors. That could potentially help you get the hang of it while feeling less stressed about making final decisions.
 

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To me distance was really important to me. I knew I didn't want to be trapped in a state far away if I flunked out of college. Which I did do. Good thing it was a local school.
 

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If you are in US, then you should check out universities in Europe. Not because of cool experience of being somewhere else, but due to the cost. It could very well be 0 dollars.

Anyway, if I were you most importantly find a major that you know you will enjoy. It's the hardest thing. You should also go into them if possible, better yet talk with lecturers and ask questions. Maybe contact previous students and ask about pros and cons, their experiences. If you are able to go to higher end and more respectable place, then go. You may think why it matters, the reality is they are better due to their different attitude to studying (taking it more seriously and delivering higher quality content). You will be more willing to study in such place. Also people that go there will be more focused on that too. It's not really important, but it may look better on your CV. In lower end colleges there are more cases on cheating, poor studying culture, worse lecturers, various ethical accidents. You may get into nice place, but if you can go to a better one. It matters.

If you have no idea what you want to do, then I can't really help you as much. You should spend a lot of time trying to understand yourself. But it would be good if you asked your parents or teachers what they think is your stronger subjects, where your passions are visible and etc. School psychologist might be of help too, could consult you and maybe even give some career tests and then try to explain your results. It would be nice if you had any prior working experience, but that's a bit too much to ask I guess.
 

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I found my school by looking for the best universities in my state for the major I was planning on studying. It turned out one a few hours from where I lived was one of the best in the USA for my major! I applied, and got in (barely).

So my advice is to find a good school for your major that is financially viable for you.
 

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The obvious first thing is you have to pick a subject area even if you don't know the precise career. I am not super familiar with STEM schools. I'm in conservatory for music, which is the most impossibly difficult schooling to figure out since you end up having to just hope you get a good private lessons teacher. They all do it so differently and most are very expensive. If your major is music I can probably help you fairly specifically though, since I had to figure this stuff out alone, too and it sucked and took forever.

#1.) You should have a semblance of a financial plan for the school you plan to attend. Most elite schools in all fields run up $45k-50k per year and then housing is maybe $10-15k depending on how rich the neighborhood is. This means you are either filthy rich, got a full ride scholarship, or you are taking out a student loan. Now, I know student loans are an infinite well of debt, but even harder is getting to sign one at all. If you have to take out $60,000 every year in loans you better have good credit or find someone with good credit to cosign it. Usually it is you parents. If you can't do this then don't bother applying to those schools unless they give out big scholarship bucks. This puts into perspective the importance of scholarships. When applying to a college, check to see what scholarship you could feasibly apply for. A good example is comparing Curtis Institute to Berklee. So, if you get into Curtis (like 7% acceptance rate), it is a full ride scholarship. If you go to Berklee, you are going to a school of like 10,000 people and you might be lucky to get $5,000 scholarship for your $60,000 bill.

#2.) Does this thing really matter to you and at what length are you willing to commit? Originally, I figured I would get a Bachelor of Arts for Music Education and just teach, but people encouraged me to shoot for the stars and I've been pretty happy with the results. This may or may not be you. But obviously, if I really went down the Music Teaching path it would be much more straight forward as I could go to a local college for it for what will be fairly cheap (as well as easy to get in). Really, what is the difference between someone with a degree to teach from a cheap school verses an expensive school? Maybe easier to get into better schools, but the career path leads straight to a job either way. The most competent people find their way to great places regardless of school. If you want to do Engineering are you really going to benefit that much more from going to the most expensive school from the start? Probably not. There is always a way to find out a transfer route. If you get a Bachelor's in whatever and you want more, you can always go for your Master's at a fancy school. WARNING! You better check thoroughly what degrees transfer where before you start taking classes. You can e-mail admissions of a school to find this out and cross check it with the school you plan to go to. Use online resources and be precise about what transfer to what. It is surprisingly stupid what does and doesn't transfer. If you go to a community college you have to be even more certain that what you do doesn't just get thrown out the window later. That being said we have to now address the main topic of schools.

#3.) Prestige. When you apply for a job and you have connections to the good school, you just have a better chance. How much of a better chance? I don't know, how talent based is the application. Obviously, if you are auditioning for an opera and you are a Soprano, you better be the greatest in the world because there are thousands of hyper talented Sopranos in the world. Now, voice is a sorcery and not many people are equipped to teach it. If you get into some garbage state school for singing then you might end up wrecking your voice from an incompetent teacher. If you get into an elite school, you are sure to have a very competent teacher. Some fields are just that way. If you are in a field that is straight forward, then why would having the most elite teacher matter? However, there is another effect of the prestige. That is facilities.

#4.) If you go to an expensive school they will be way better equipped for you to learn. They will have the biggest labs and the most practice rooms. They will have donors dumping hundreds of millions of dollars on them to produce unparalleled everything.

In the end, it is perfectly valid to go to a trade school. If you are okay doing hair cutting, welding, etc. there is absolutely nothing wrong with skipping the insane expenses of higher education for that. I mean who is to say this $200,000 of debt will even produce a guaranteed job? You might end up working at Best Buy anyway but now have all this debt? There's always pros and cons. That also reminds me, there are many jobs that require you just to have a bachelors of any kind. Maybe if you don't know what you want to do, you can go to a cheaper state school in a fairly fun or easy major for you and getting your bachelors just to be in that better bracket of applicants. Who knows, maybe you will find out what you want to do while you are doing that and you will be in a much more flexible position to switch gears than at the end of your second year of $60,000 school.
 

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When I first applied to colleges about five years ago I used a website that helped generate a ranking list of colleges in my state based off of my prioritized characteristics. Sadly I can't remember the name of the site... But it was really helpful for me at the time. Though I ended up transferring after my freshman year to another college, the one I moved onto was still one of the three main schools that I applied to initially and I don't necessarily regret my first choice university even though I did decide to transfer; so overall, using that process of elimination still went well for me.

The main things to focus on are what criteria is most important to you and which ones are you more open/lenient about such as: distance from hometown, overall expected cost, major selection, prestige, the city/town the college is located within, diversity, etc. For example, cost and diversity were my main priorities along with location (wanting to stay within state but not too close to home). I wanted a school who had a variety of majors available, but I didn't look too much into what certain school was best for a certain major because I went into college Undecided - had I known what I wanted to pursue originally, that would have been my top priority. I know the 'pros and cons list' is suggested a lot, but it definitely helps when you specify it deeper like this.

That sounds like a great idea! :) Back when I was applying, myself and my classmates were very encouraged by our advisors to initially identify a couple "safety schools" - schools that you are very likely to be admitted to and that wouldn't be a stretch distance-wise/financially/culturally/etc. I remember that being a helpful starting place for me - sort of a "sandbox" to play in before moving on to more complex endeavors. That could potentially help you get the hang of it while feeling less stressed about making final decisions.
I also applied to a couple of "safety" schools and would highly recommend doing the same!
 

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Since I wanted to study theology, I just applied to Canada's #1 Christian university.
 

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For starters, if you plan on grad school-I'd probably research into the types of research each grad program and/or orientational theory they hold, and make sure it matches yours. Also, study your professors- see if their level of research and expertise also matches your personal interests, too. Also, get to know their philosophies. And also do you research through online educational forums (because sometimes, it's PR that certain schools market certain "areas of research" which contradict what they are all about--I had this happen to me once, not doing thorough research, getting into a program that didn't match well with my expectations- and teachers not really teaching what their supposed areas of expertise was about- in other words- what looks good on paper may not match reality--some professors/department chairs would take credit of their own students' research without doing the work themselves). That's probably how I'd go about it- areas of research-- that's if you're going for graduate school.

For undergrad- the same method applies, too. It's more general, and less focused, so you less of a crap-shoot. Any accredited campus that interests you could provide a decent broad educational experience. *If it's in the U.S. you wan to look for WASC accreditation.

And lastly, in terms of private art/trade schools, sometimes a very decent local community college can teach you way more and save you a fraction of the price. Some art and trade schools reputation/ability to attract very skilled teachers from the industry all depends on the philosophy of the dean, and the types of teachers they bring onto campus.
 

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I was a pretty derpy teen. I just applied to schools that my parents recommended + ones that seemed cool. Yeah.

Rankings aren't perfect but they're a good approximation for a school's quality and reputation. I would also look into rankings by program/department, focusing on subjects you are interested in.

When I was looking into PhD programs I went through the rankings and made a list of all the schools in a certain range + ones my advisor recommended to me. I then went through the school websites and systematically collected information I cared about, like urban/rural, research centers nearby, and professors I might want to work with. I put all the information in an Excel spreadsheet. This made it easier to compare the schools and pick out the ones I liked best. Since you're interested in medicine, I would check to see if the schools have a hospital or medical research lab on campus. If so, you might be able to get a part-time job or internship there.
 

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Rankings matter but not as much as you think, at least here in the UK. The one thing you really gain from attending a higher university is that you'll be surrounded by people aiming higher on average, and this will therefore rub off on your belief system about yourself. Though I will say if you have a high IQ you're more likely to get professors teaching their own calibrated courses where you can absorb brighter ideas from, rather than the bog-standard textbook courses you might get at a lower university. That's an ambiguous value though, depends if you are able to take the value out of that or not, it's hard to say if you would.

At the end of the day it's more about initiative and experience- you can graduate but you start from ground zero, and I'd actually say that working a part-time job where you can demonstrate skills used is better in many cases than attending a higher university and having zero work experience- as is the ability to interview well and communicate articulately.

That's one thing I learned- interviews are a little bit like blagging. Not full blagging because there needs to be some substance there, but you need to understand how to use language in ways to communicate how you can help a company, and how you can be a net-profit for that institution if they hire you. It's not enough to wave a fancy bit of paper and point at it going "looksie here!".

If you've ever seen "Dragon's Den" and you see the difference- some people have a crap product, but even among the people with a good product there's a big discrepency in how the people are able to communicate and how well prepared they are in presenting how their product will be of direct value. That's probably the most important skill, expect that you are the product.
 
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