Finding A School
There are numerous considerations in the selection of a particular college or university. The intention of this section is to make the student aware of both personal and academic factors that might play a part in his or her college decision.
Starting your Search
The characteristics listed are ones that students frequently mention as important in the selection process. Not all of them will matter to you and some will seem more important than others. The more specific you become in the characteristics you want, the more limited your search will be. One good way to start your search is to choose one or two characteristics and find the colleges that have them. Stay flexible.
CharacteristicsTypes of Schools
Location (state, city, region)
Campus Environment (metropolitan, rural)
Type (University, College, Technical School, etc.)
Enrollment by Sex (female only, male only or coed)
Religious Affiliation, if any
Size of College (undergraduate enrollment)
Courses, Majors or Degrees Offered
Tuition or Cost (don't eliminate because of cost until you find out whether you qualify for financial aid.)
Financial Aid (scholarships, merit aid, need-based aid, work study)
Student Activities (ex. Greek life, honors programs, or extracurricular)
Academic Caliber of Students
Competitive Atmosphere of the School
Start your search by recognizing the many different types of schools. Although a majority of students go to a four-year college or university, you should consider all alternatives.
UNIVERSITIES offer a broad range of both undergraduate and graduate degree programs. They can vary in size and in the diversity of the programs they offer, but are generally larger than other types of colleges. They typically offer more majors and have more research facilities than do other colleges.
COLLEGES are divided by departments and usually offer one or two degrees (Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science) in many academic disciplines. This would include a major in departments such as math, English, literature, science, foreign languages, politics, history or engineering. There are various types of Colleges (for ex. Liberal Arts, Technological, Military, or Education) They usually have smaller enrollments and offer fewer degrees.
JUNIOR OR COMMUNITY COLLEGES award associate degrees at the completion of two years of full time study. They frequently offer technical programs of study that prepare students for immediate entry into the job market. In addition, many offer general education programs that are the equivalent of the first two years of a bachelor's degree program. These are called transfer programs; upon completion, students may enter a bachelor's degree program at the third-year level at a four-year college or university. The majority of two-year public colleges have open admission policies, although some individual programs like Nursing may be selective.
TECHNICAL SCHOOLS specialize in one or more of the branches of engineering technology, aeronautics, air conditioning, heating and refrigeration, automotive diesel, and steam technologies, construction, chemical technology, electronics, mechanics and metallurgy, tool designing, computer technology, and others. One of the greatest occupational demands in the future will be for technicians.
VOCATIONAL SCHOOLS offer additional training in a large number of fields. Courses run from a few weeks to several years. Business and secretarial schools offer typing, stenography, bookkeeping, data processing, and other business related courses. At other schools, you can learn acting, police work, dressmaking, court reporting, mortuary science, cosmetology, upholstering, welding, modeling, selling and other specialized careers.
CAREER COLLEGES A new name for a new breed of vocational/technical schools. The main purpose of a Career College is to train for a particular career, trade or profession, usually in two or fewer years.
SERVICE ACADEMIES include the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Merchant Marines, and the Coast Guard. Acceptance to the Army, Navy and Air Force academies requires a congressional nomination and acceptance from the academy. The student must contact a State Senator, Congressional Representative, or the Vice President of the United States for the proper forms for nomination. The Coast Guard does not require a nomination. See our Internet Resources Page for links to the various academies.
SENIOR MILITARY COLLEGES For students who would like to experience a military environment while getting a first-class education, a Senior Military College (SMC) offers the best of both worlds. SMCs are among the most prestigious and famous education institutions in the world. You can learn more about each SMC by visiting their official Web sites:
Virginia Military Institute
Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets
North Georgia College & State University
Texas A&M Corps of Cadets
Mary Baldwin Women's Institute for Leadership
Resources in Your Search for a College
COLLEGE/CAREER RESOURCE CENTER
A valuable resource for students and parents when searching for college and career information is the College/Career Resource Center located in the library. Students, parents and the community are invited to visit during the school day. Resources available are career books, college catalogs and bulletins, directories, scholarship and financial aid information and more.
Once a year Humble ISD hosts a college information night. You are encouraged to take advantage of this excellent opportunity to speak directly to college admission officers and to find out more about scholarships, majors, financial aid and admission procedures. It is a good time to sign up for further correspondence from the colleges of your interest.
THE COLLEGE VISIT
The campus visit is a helpful resource in your college investigation. Not only does the visit enable you to see the physical setting and facilities of the school, but it allows you to observe the students, faculty, and staff. The best time to visit a college is while it is in session. If you plan a visit, call or write the Admissions Office to request an interview and tour of the campus. Addresses and phone numbers can be found in directories in the College/Career Resource Center or on each college's website. It is your responsibility to make the visitation arrangements. Many schools sponsor visitation weekends that are geared to the prospective student. This is an excellent opportunity to learn a lot about the school, and its procedures. Usually there is an orientation, tour of the campus, tour of the dorms, presentations about admissions, programs of study, student life, and financial aid. You can learn about these special occasions by watching the senior bulletin board, or by going online to each college's web site.
The Internet is a great place for information. Most schools have web sites. Search using the college's name. Some of the information you can find is Admissions, Financial Aid, Majors, Departments, and Course Offerings. Each site is set up differently, so explore until you become familiar with it. Some have a section for prospective students, and some have most of the information for prospective students under the Admissions category. We have Internet access in the library and in the College/Career Resource Center. Also Internet access is available in the public library. See our Internet Resources page for some great search engines to help you locate schools according to your preferences, location, major, size etc.
1. Plan early. You should begin narrowing your college options during your junior year.
2. Take entrance exams (SAT or ACT). Ask which exam, if any, your college of choice prefers. Take the exam during your junior year and then again during your senior year. See our section on taking entrance exams. Studying or practicing for the exam helps!
3. Apply to at least three colleges. At least one of these should be a sure-fire acceptance.
4. Visit the different campuses and speak with an admissions counselor. Typical questions to ask:
o What is the size of the student body/ campus?
o Does the campus have a supportive climate?
o What are the academic support services?
o Are there special mentor programs for the students? Honor programs?
o What financial support programs does the college offer?
o How much are tuition and fees for the typical year? Room, board, books?
o What is the size of the typical freshman class?
o What percentage of freshmen continues as sophomores? Graduate in four years?
o What career development is available?
5. Weigh the differences between schools.
o Location and setting.
o Type and size of schools.
o Cost of Attendance: Tuition, room and board, extra fees, books, travel expenses, spending money, special clothing.
o Financial aid: Scholarships, grants, loans, work-study, campus jobs, co-op programs
o Admission requirements: Required tests, grade point average, class rank, residency, special talents. Try to match requirements to your abilities.
o Campus life: Cultural events, sports, clubs, recreational facilities.MAKE THE BEST OF A COLLEGE FAIR
Do a little research on the schools you would like to approach before college night. Browse their websites. Find the prospective student link and check out the pages designed just for you.
Bring a bag to hold all your goodies .
Bring or make self stick labels. Most representatives will have inquiry cards that they will want you to fill out, which will place you on their mailing lists. You could include your address, phone number, e-mail address, high school graduation date, GPA, and areas of interest.
Make a list of questions. Focus on questions that pertain to your interests. Ask about majors that you are interested in pursuing. What kind of classes will you have to take for those majors? What services or supports are available to help you explore various majors? What are recent graduates of those majors doing now? How safe is the campus and its surrounding neighborhoods? What is the campus environment like on the weekends? What kinds of campus job opportunities are available? Try to ask questions that you couldn't find answers to from researching the websites.
Locate some one handing out a directory to the participants. Locate your first choice schools and go there first. After you visit your top choices, take some time and browse the other schools. You may find some surprises in schools you haven't considered before.
Time your arrival . The college night in Humble ISD runs from 6 to 9. My GUESS is that it will be the busiest around 7 PM . Don't arrive much before 6, until they are ready, the doors won't be open.
To read a short inspired article "Faring Well at College Fairs" Click here to go to NACAC's website.