Make sure you're prepared
Take a close look at your high school coursework. Have you followed a college-preparatory schedule? Did you take three or four years of English, math, science, and foreign languages? Check with a high school guidance counselor to make sure you're on track. Take college aptitude tests (the SAT and/or the ACT) early in your senior year, so that your scores will be available by the application deadline.
Do your homework
There are thousands of colleges and universities in the United States. You'll want to narrow the field in order to have a more manageable group to investigate further. Start by consulting guidebooks or websites. Here are some aspects you may want to consider:
- Major - Make sure the schools you are considering offer the fields you want to pursue, but don't feel you have to be locked into one area. Colleges and universities provide the opportunity for exploration and, sometimes, for designing your own major.
- Size - Are you interested in a larger school, or one with a smaller enrollment? Note: In Connecticut's independent colleges and universities, you still receive individual attention, regardless of the size of the student body.
- Athletics - If you want to play a certain sport, check to see if there are varsity or intramural teams you can join.
- Cost - Do not exclude schools based on their published tuition price. Because of widely available financial aid, the actual cost to each student may be well below the "sticker price" of tuition. Financial aid officers at each institution can create custom financial-aid packages to meet your needs.
- Educational quality - With an average class size of only 13 students, Connecticut's independent colleges and universities offer an education that ensures you won't get lost in the crowd. You'll be taught by professors, not teaching assistants, and have wide opportunities for leadership and service.
As part of your research, talk to guidance counselors and friends to hear their recommendations. Ask them about their own college experiences, and seek out alumni of schools that have piqued your interest.
Visit several campuses
An on-site visit is crucial to let you experience the atmosphere of the campus. Take this chance to meet with admissions representatives, professors, and coaches. Tour the residence halls, recreation and dining facilities, and classrooms. Talk to students. If possible, schedule an overnight visit.
Prepare and submit your application(s)
Once you have narrowed the field of schools you are considering, it's time to fill out the applications. Some students apply to as many as 8 to 10 colleges, while others limit themselves to two or three. In any case, devote the time necessary to create a strong application. List your extracurricular activities as well as your school accomplishments. Think carefully about your application essay—don't just dash it off. Letters of recommendation are important, so choose carefully the people you will ask. Observe all deadlines! Connecticut's independent colleges and universities allow you to apply online, if you wish—check out the procedure elsewhere on this website.
Make your decision
When you have received notice from colleges or universities of your status (accepted, wait-listed, or not accepted), it's time to make your decision. If you are still not sure about which college to choose, schedule another visit to the schools which have accepted you. Many schools have special programs for accepted students in late April. If you are wait-listed at your preferred school, don't just wait passively—write a letter to tell the school why you are still interested. When you have made your decision, inform all the involved schools in a timely manner.
Make the most of your college years
Your college education will be the springboard for the rest of your life. Look upon your baccalaureate degree as an investment in your future. Work hard, while taking advantage of all the opportunities for leadership, service, enrichment, and enjoyment. You will forge lasting relationships and indelible memories. Career and placement services at each college or university will help prepare you for life after graduation. A fine college education will serve as the foundation for lifelong learning, and the value of your degree will continue to appreciate.