The College Cursor

Gauri Chhabra
Come March, the students and parents all over the country witness a flurry of  activity associated with peaked stress levels when they have to take two major decisions of their lives- which colleges to apply ? And which ones to finally attend. The process and the pressure on students has intensified considerably over the past decade or so owing to the soaring cut offs and the bee line for admissions to some of the top notch universities of the country. In order to play safe, students fill the forms of as many as 20 -25 colleges every year. The result- an inflation in the number of application leading to chaos at all levels. On the other hand, there is a set of students who would go starry eyed for their dream college so much so that they would not fill the forms of any other college. This has another seesaw result- if you do not get through your dream college, you waste a year.
So, what is the best number? How do you zero in on a college. How do you trade off a college for a subject? These and many other questions need to be answered. Let’s discuss some of them.
Getting admission in a good college is a milestone for most young people. While the national Capital offers many options with five major universities – Delhi University, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Jamia Millia Islamia, Ambedkar University and Indraprastha University – most school pass-outs aim for Delhi University (DU).There are more than 4,000 four-year institutions that prospective college students can apply to but deciding on the number of colleges to pursue can take time, research and a little soul-searching.
We’ll take a look at some of the common factors that you need to keep in mind while filling up the admission forms that would hopefully give you a nice competitive advantage.
Number of applications
Applicants should carefully weigh the number of schools where they’ll submit applications to maximize their chances of being a strong candidate, and to avoid the drawbacks that can come with applying to too many or too few colleges. While there may not be a specific number applicants should aim for, there is a specific range. Prospective students should have between four and eight colleges on their list. Ideally, you would  want to have at least two safety colleges. So you’ve got three target colleges, and two reach colleges  to go with those two safeties.
Safety colleges are institutions that are almost certain to admit applicants, target colleges are likely to take applicants and reach colleges are colleges and universities that will be a competitive stretch for applicants. Prospective students can usually determine which category a school falls into based on the average test scores and GPA for its incoming students.
Applying takes effort and submitting applications to a large number of colleges may ruin the quality of the prospective student’s applications.
“At least” is the operative term when ballparking college application costs. You should also think about money when deciding on where to apply. When narrowing a college, prospective students should also think about which colleges will really prepare them for success.One of the most important things is thinking about this concept of fit and finding an institution where the student is really excited about the community that he, she or they are going to be surrounded by when they actually enter the institution. They should also keep in mind what’s their ideal campus size, if they’ll like an urban or suburban environment and the student body. Applicants should put their best foot forward to leverage their chance at an acceptance letter from a college that embodies what they value most in an institution.
It’s always about the quality of your applications and the quality of the match with the schools you apply to.
As students, you may feel cramped in home environment after a rigorous preparation for exams so much so that you feel that college should be as far from home as possible. This is another name for independence- the kids feel. In this effort to flee from home, you would tend to choose a college very far from home. Always remember- if you choose that all the things that came as a given at home or closer home- you will have to fight for everything- from small chores to coming home in every vacation- it would be a long struggle. I have seen many students taking admissions in a frenzy and then filling up the migration forms after they have tasted the first semester. Proximity to home town is a very significant factor to be considered while applying to a college. Still,many students go to college in their home state. No huge surprise here, but it’s a nice reminder to keep the bulk of your digital media dollars close to home.
Given that education is mostly self-determined, the final choice among comparable colleges is to some degree an aesthetic one. That is, you want to choose the place where you will feel most comfortable, and most able to make use of the resources provided to you. And that means that things like the physical environment of the college are important to consider when making a decision. After all, you’re not just choosing where you’ll attend the occasional classes, you’re picking a place to live for the next several years. For instance, if you have lived all your life in the comfort of the countryside, you would feel lost if you get admission in the colleges in metro cities. The comfort with the physical environment matters a lot. So, if at all possible, make sure you visit the campuses of the places you’re choosing between. If one of them stands out as feeling like home, that’s a good sign. More importantly, though, if you find you can’t imagine yourself living in a particular climate or set of first-year dorms, cross that college off your list immediately.
Academic Excellence and Reputation
Although students see academics as important, they’re not looking at ranking lists to judge them, says that faculty in particular play an important role in college decisions. At the right stage in the process, key faculty can be really influential in a student’s choice of college and their major once they get there.  Of course, it’s pretty common that on most college visits students have the opportunity to meet key faculty. But, if you can connect students and faculty earlier through digital, you may be able to get an early advantage.
Marketing still matters of course, but it’s changing. Institutions’ websites are the most heavily-accessed online resources. We all know mobile is a priority, but a key takeaway is the lack of interest in university apps. While 97% of students have viewed college sites on their phones, nearly ¾ of students said they had no interest in downloading a university’s app. If your college’s site isn’t yet responsive, we’d recommend this be the priority.  However, this effort at an institutional level could be pretty monumental in its own right.  Changing a college website is a little like turning a cruise ship. It’s not going to be quick. If that’s the case, it may be worthwhile to explore a microsite aimed specifically at prospective students. That can give you a quick, effective destination that you can use for other digital campaigns.
Summing up
Therefore, before you finally fill the application form, pause and ponder – make the right trade off.