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Researching Colleges


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Putting together a list of colleges and not sure where to start? The websites and resources below can help you. The first steps in this process, however, should be thinking about your educational, career, and personal goals, your preferences, and how much your family can reasonably afford to pay. Have an honest conversation with your family members about these topics. Naviance also has three different career interest surveys you can take if you are not sure what kind of career might be a good match for you (see the "Quick Guide to Naviance Family Connection" link below and scroll to the bottom of the page). You are also welcome to talk to an advisor at the College/Career Center (CCC) to help you figure out your preferences and options. Students may email Ms. Nguyen, or stop by the CCC to ask questions. To set up an appointment, students should come to the CCC in person. Priority for appointments is given to seniors in the fall semester, and juniors in the second semester. Students must initiate appointments. Don’t forget to visit college campuses when you can (your school breaks are a great time to do so), and to sign up in Naviance to meet college representatives when they visit M-A. Below the list of search engines, you will find some additional websites and resources for college visits and virtual tours. Find colleges that will be a good match for you. If you have questions about researching colleges,come to the CCC.
College Information Hubs

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College Search Engines and Information Hubs


Naviance Family Connection: Naviance is a solid place to research information about colleges, as it provides not only details about thousands of four-year colleges, community colleges, and specialty colleges, but it also gives you admission data on past M-A students who have applied to colleges in the graph or scattergram function. Click on the “Colleges” tab, and then “SuperMatch” in Naviance. You should also use Naviance to sign up to meet college representatives when they visit our campus. Click on the “Colleges” tab, then on the right click on “view all upcoming college visits.”

Collegeboard’s Big Future: Like Naviance, this search engine allows you to use various criteria to narrow down a list of colleges that may match your preferences. Very user-friendly interface, and many other college-related topics with useful information. Very worthwhile.

College Admissions with Khan Academy: Like many of its instructional resources, the Khan Academy's video tutorials on the college application process are a great introduction to many topics, such as why college is important, how to make high school count, and exploring college options. The Khan Academy also provides free SAT preparation that can be personalized to your needs: current SAT (until Jan. 2016), and the "new" or Redesigned SAT (starting Mar. 2016).

NCES College Navigator: The National Center for Education Statistics is the government body that collects data about colleges. Like others, this site allows you to build and save a list of colleges. It also includes a link to the U.S. Department of Education’s College Affordability and Transparency Center, which can provide information on the cost of colleges. A launching point for researching public and private four-year and two-year colleges in California. Includes links about CalGrants. Created by the state of California.

UC Freshman Admission: The University of California’s site for information on Freshman admission. Includes a link to the online application itself which will be open from October 1 through November 30. Also, check out the UC Information Center for detailed admission and enrollment data reports. In addition, this matrix compares/contrasts freshmen admission practices at each of the UC campuses, including information on which campuses admit by major and what SAT Subject tests may be recommended, depending on your major.

Cal State Apply: Information on applying to the California State University system. Includes weblinks to specific colleges, the CSU Eligibility Index (find out if your grades and test scores make you eligible), and impacted majors and campuses. Includes a link to the online application itself that will be open from October 1 through November 30.

Colleges that Change Lives: Based on a book written by Loren Pope, this collection of 40 colleges was chosen for certain distinguishing characteristics, including small class sizes, faculty dedicated to working with undergraduates, and a residential community that emphasizes engaged learning and personal growth both on and off campus.

NACAC/TeenLife Guide to Performing and Visual Arts Colleges: This website features articles and a directory of peforming and visual arts colleges. College data on topics like average student debt, percent of a college’s grants that are need-based, and graduation rates.

National Collegiate Honors Council: The NCHC site provides a list of larger public and private universities that have Honors Colleges, a kind of special program for honors students who are looking for smaller learning communities within a large college. Often, Honors Colleges offer strong students the chance to be among a cohort of other honors students, work more closely with faculty in smaller classes, have access to research and internship opportunities, merit scholarships, priority registration, and special housing. This list also includes community colleges that have an Honors program for students planning to transfer to 4-year colleges. Find out how high school honors may be different from college honors.

WUE: The Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) Program allows students in Western states to enroll in other participating college programs in the western United States (outside of their home state) at a reduced tuition rate. See which institutions and college programs participate.

Today’s Military: A site by the U.S. Department of Defense that provides information about all military branches of service, including links that describe ROTC programs and scholarships and military academies.

Military One Source: For military families, this is a great resource. The link provided here takes you to information on preparing for, applying to, and paying for college. It also gives information on special education services for children 3-21, career materials, and more.

College Visits and College Fairs

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College Visits and College Fairs

College Visits

Taking a tour of a college campus is one of the best ways to get a feel for whether or not a school is a good fit for you. College tour schedules are typically posted on a college’s website under their Admissions page or Visitors page, and you typically sign up and reserve a spot online. Be sure to make your reservations early during peak seasons such as Spring Break.

If you can’t visit a college campus, there are other alternatives. In the fall semester, almost one hundred college representatives come to M-A to meet with students to talk about their school, and to answer your questions. This is a great opportunity to talk to the person who is most likely to read your application first. To look at the schedule of representatives who are coming to M-A and to reserve a seat, log into Naviance, click on the “Colleges” tab, then on the right click on “view all upcoming college visits.”

Virtual tours of colleges are now widely available online. Check out the following sites: This site boasts the largest collection of college virtual tours. Over 1200 tours.
Also, many college post their own virtual tours and promotional videos on their websites and on YouTube.

College Fairs

Attending a college fair is another great opportunity to make direct contact with a college. To find out when and where the next big college fair is coming near you, check out the links below:

NACAC College Fairs
WACAC College Fairs
Performing and Visual Arts College Fairs