College Search Process
 
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All too often, questions and conversations about the college search begin and end with the names of colleges as destinations. “Where will you go?” “Where are you applying to?” “Will you get in?”  Following the counseling philosophy of Bill McMurray (see Bill’s Philosophy), College Search U begins with the student and continues that focus throughout the journey of the college search.  Indeed, our work with clients and their families focuses exclusively on finding the right fit for each student, beginning with a strong personal connection we make with every client family and placing the destination where it belongs: at the conclusion of the journey.

Although the college search is focused appropriately on the students, parents are embarking on a journey of their own.  We spend time with parents discussing what can and cannot be controlled in the college search, and why. We help our clients understand how best to integrate college cost and affordability parameters with other key criteria guiding the student's college search. We help develop “divide and conquer” strategies, whereby all family members understand their “to do” lists and can derive real enjoyment from the journey - together. We serve parents, in part, by being their sounding board when they make discoveries of their own, or read something that may raise more questions than it answers. 

For the student, the journey toward the ultimate goal of the right fit can be divided into four phases: Discovery, Exploration, Application, and Selection. While there is an organic flow to the four phases, we often circle back and revisit a prior phase when students discover new information or develop a new interest.

Here’s a sample list of what students can expect from each phase of the college search.  


Discovery
  • Learn about (and embrace) your authentic academic and extra-curricular strengths, abilities, passions, and goals.
  • Develop strategies and skills to help you connect what you love and want to do with available opportunities in higher education.
  • Learn how finding quality, right fit options for you should reflect your family's "college affordability" needs and preferences
  • Build an understanding of what you can control and what you cannot, so as to know where to best invest your time and energy.
  • Understand how to divide and conquer
 
Exploration
  • Learn how to evaluate colleges and universities as potential matches for you, based on your increasing self-awareness and growing general knowledge of how the process works in colleges.  
  • Develop a list of preferred colleges, each of which represents a fit in terms of all/most of your important criteria. (e.g., academic programs, location, size, mission, extra-curricular/social options, chances of admission, affordability, etc.). 
  • Modify/update your list continuously.  There is no “one-time” list as your preferences will likely change or expand as you become more adept in the college search.

Application
  • Learn how to prepare your applications to your chosen colleges in a way that will put your best foot forward.
  • Create personal statements (essays) that provide evidence of your writing ability and also highlight appropriate dimensions of your character/personality for the admission reader.
  • Apply to the colleges of your choice with confidence, knowing that you have taken control of the process and done your best.

Selection
  • Learn how to compare offers of admission and financial aid (if applicable) in terms of your personal priorities, so as to determine all implications of each of your potential choices.  
  • Develop strategies for questions and/or appeals that will clarify all aspects of each college’s decision(s).
  • Choose the college you will attend, confident that you have found the right fit.
 
 
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