How to Research Colleges Efficiently and Without Stress

How to Research Colleges Efficiently and Without Stress
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  • 0:05 The Stress of…
  • 0:56 5 Strategies to Make It Easier
  • 5:44 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Carrie Lin

Carrie is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor who specializes in career counseling.

As you start researching colleges, you may find the process a little overwhelming. This video gives you some tips for making the college search more efficient and less stressful.

The Stress of Researching Colleges

Researching colleges and deciding which ones to apply to is a big undertaking. There's a lot of information to keep track of. You'll probably be finding information from multiple sources, like the college's website, college guidebooks, and phone calls with students or alumni. You'll need to find a way to keep track of the most important information about each school.

Eric is finding this process challenging. He's a high school senior who's planning to attend college next year. He's come up with a list of the things he's looking for and has started the research process. Right now he's a little stressed. There's so much information to take in and keep track of. Here are some strategies I advise students, like Eric, to use.

5 Strategies to Make it Easier

1. Get a system in place for your college research.

Since you're dealing with so much information, you'll need a system to keep it organized. You can use your computer, a notebook, a binder with loose-leaf paper, or any other system that works for you. The important thing is to keep everything in one place and organize it in a way that makes the search as efficient as possible.

Microsoft Excel, or another spreadsheet program, is a great system to use. Unlike with paper materials, you can easily make changes and move things around. You can also quickly search for information you need to find. If you don't know how to use Excel, you can find free tutorials online.

Eric made an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of his research. He included these variables for each school:

• Name

• Location

• Tuition

• Likes

• Dislikes

• Links to important webpages

• Notes he wants to remember

Now Eric has a 'go-to' place where he can easily find the information he needs.

2. Rate the schools you are considering.

As you do your research, keep track of your current first choice, second choice, and so forth. That will give you a framework to make evaluating and comparing colleges more efficient. If you don't want to put them in exact order, you can rate each school on a scale from 1 to 10 or you can assign between 1 and 5 stars. Your scores or rankings will likely change as you gather more information.

Eric added a variable to his Excel spreadsheet called 'Rank'. He assigns each school a number: '1' for his first choice, '2' for his second choice, and so on. He likes having an efficient way to evaluate the school he's researching. He also likes that he can now sort his spreadsheet by the variable 'Rank,' and his top school will be listed first. As he finds out more about schools, he can easily reorder them.

3. Take good notes on the schools you are considering.

In college, you'll be taking lots of notes. Now is a good time to start getting practice. When you take notes, write down information you want to remember in summary form. Keep it brief, and use abbreviations. For example, if you speak to a current student or admissions officer, write down the main points you want to remember. Don't try to write down every word they say.

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