Applying to College: Log On, Get In
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Choosing what college or university you attend may be one of the most important decisions you'll make. The college search advice in this section offers search tools, rankings and reviews to help you narrow the options and determine what fits you best.
- College and university rankings can be useful for exposing certain attributes of schools, but rankings are dependent on endowment funds, alumni giving and other nonacademic factors. Don't use rankings as the most important way to judge a school; you might miss out on some great institutions.
- There are many good schools that lie under the radar. Author Loren Pope has written several books directed at students looking for a good match rather than a brand name. Check out "Looking Beyond the Ivy League: Finding the College That's Right for You" and "Colleges that Change Lives: 40 That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges," which includes sections for students with learning disabilities as well as for those that are homeschooled.
- Some basic terms that you'll come across in this guide and in your research include:
- Safety School: a school that will likely accept you.
- Reach School: a school that will be difficult for you to get into.
- Early Action: a nonbinding application that puts you in the first round of applicants.
- Early Decision: a binding application that puts you in the first round of applicants. If you are accepted ED, you are required to attend the school that accepted you. Generally, you can apply to only one school Early Decision.