Once you are ready to start comparing Colleges as part of your College Search, you need to define attributes you want to compare and organize your College data into spreadsheets. To help you begin this process, I’ve create several templates that will help you think about how to organize your College Data.
- Document your Thoughts & Feelings, by College – this spreadsheet is very basic, but you should expand it to really discuss how you feel about a college. This is beyond your notes while visiting the campus, it’s more about what stood out for your and made you really like, or not like, the campus. You may be going back to your notes about NYU to remember why you took them off your list. You went through your notes from the Tour and Information Session, which don’t trigger your memory. But if you have documented your thoughts/feelings, you can immediately remember why. This can be especially helpful if you eliminated a college for a reason that you later decide is not a problem – maybe you had decided that you don’t want a college in the middle of an urban city, but then you go to visit University of San Francisco and decide that you actually liked the experience. As your criteria changes, you should refer to your spreadsheet documenting your Thoughts & Feelings, as you may reconsider Colleges on your list that had been eliminated for that reason.
- Create a quick breakdown of the typically admitted student and related information, including number of applicants, acceptance rate, test scores, financial aid, endowment and your thoughts on whether a College is a Target (or Match), Reach or Safety school. Modify this spreadsheet to target your special interests/situation. Note that I try to identify the source of information, both so it’s easier to go back and find the same information for a different college, and also because if I learn something about that source’s information (for example, it tends to not be updated regularly), then I know how to consider/adjust the data from that source. Even if you aren’t a varsity athlete, it still might be helpful to know what percentage of students are, because the profile of the typically admitted student might not be accurate if you aren’t an athlete, but 40% of admitted students are (the average test score for non-athletes might be higher, for example).