Read an Excerpt
How to Choose the Right School for You
You're about to make one of your first grown-up decisions, and it's going to be a tough one. From among the thousands of colleges in the country, you have to choose just a handful to apply to. You could take the easy way out, of course-you know, pick a school according to how well it did in the NCAA Final Four, or the one that has the most luxurious dorms, or just fall in with the driven seniors who will apply indiscriminately to most of the Ivies.
Or you can do the slightly harder work that will pay off for decades to come. You can take a long look in the mirror and ask yourself: Who is this person anyway? What does she want out of college? What kind of campus will make him feel at home? If you haven't worried too much about self-awareness before, now's the time-before you make a huge, costly blooper and wind up unhappy.
What kinds of situations have made you feel academically and socially successful in high school? If you haven't been successful, why not? Which kinds of classes have you gotten the most out of? What sorts of people have you enjoyed hanging out with? Which activities have really been fun? How different from high school do you want your college experience to be?
Remember, you're aiming to find the school that best suits you-not your friends, not your teachers, and not your parents. This chapter will help you narrow the choices down to a manageable list of five to 10 places where you stand a great chance of being happy for the next four years. Your final list should include "reach" schools (schools that may be a bit too hard to get into), "probables" (schools where yourqualifications are apt to get you in), and "safeties" (ones you can count on accepting you).