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How To Choose The Right College

How to Choose the Right College:

There are a multitude of guides both on- and off-line to help guide you in your search for a U.S. college or university. When looking for a college, we first recommend you read the excellent guidelines by the trusted Peterson’s College Guide.

The online version of the Peterson’s Guide (it is published in both online and print format) lets you search for all types of undergraduate, graduate and vocational programs and helps with test preparation and financial aid issues. In the guide you will find listed for each college the types of tests required (e.g. the SAT), if any, the average GPA (grade-point average) of accepted applicants, the ratio of acceptances to applications, and other admissions and program information.

The SAT, or Scholastic Assessment Test, is the most commonly required standardized aptitude test for admission to U.S. colleges and universities. Most, but not all, schools require it. The test is designed and administered by the College Board. Click here for a list of test dates and fees.

The College Board website also lists locations and contact information for Overseas Educational Advising Centers around the world. These centers can help you search for colleges and assist you with admissions applications, financial aid, and standardized test information.

The U.S. News and World Report College Rankings – a nationally respected guide considered the definitive ranking of best colleges. universities and graduate programs in the U.S. Updated annually, with sections on public universities, private colleges, regional schools, and graduate and professional programs. Ranking factors include academic reputation, faculty resources, quality of campus life, and student selectivity.

College Board’s Guide to International Education – valuable info and links on applying to colleges, testing information, resources in your home country.

Embark.com – helps you prepare for college, choose the right school, apply to college online, and obtain financial aid. One special feature is an interactive “matchmaker” that matches you to schools that best suit your preferences for location, cost, size, academic focus, and student life.

The Application Process:

Colleges vary in their application deadlines. The typical college application deadline is in the fall of the previous year in which you wish to attend. Acceptances are issued in the spring.

The application normally includes:

  • An official high school transcript, or its equivalent
  • 2-3 letters of recommendation from former teachers
  • An application essay in which the applicant is usually asked to describe his or her special aptitudes and interests,
  • Record of your standardized test results (SAT, TOEFL, advanced placement exams)

How to Pay for College:

Most public financial assistance, such as the U.S. Department of Education’s Student Financial Assistance Program (SFAP), is restricted by law to U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents. However, some scholarships and grants are available. For more information, check out the list of resources compiled at the NAFSA (Association of International Educators) website.

General Resources for U.S. permanent residents and citizens

There are a number of different student loans and grants available to help students pay for college. The U.S. Department of Education offers both need-based (Stafford subsidized loans, Pell grants) and non-need based (Stafford unsubsidized loans, PLUS loans for parents of dependent children) loans. Need-based loans are calculated based on the cost of the college minus the amount the student or his parents can contribute. Contact the student financial aid office at the college you are applying to or check the U.S. Department of Education’s online Student Guide for 2000-2001 for current information on all types of loans. The toll-free number is 800/4-FEDAID (800/433-3243) to obtain a free guide.

You can also apply for federal student aid online at: http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/

Other Useful Links:

The Motley Fool Guide to Paying for College: http://www.fool.com/money/payingforcollege/payingforcollege.htm

College is Possible.org – An excellent guide to financial aid resources, college prices, choosing a college, and more:
http://www.collegeispossible.org/paying/paying.htm
http://www.collegeispossible.org/choosing/international.htm

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