Did you know there are 2,000+ four-year colleges and universities in the US? It’s not realistic to know them all, much less what makes each one distinctive.
How are Miami University and the University of Miami similar to one another… or more importantly, wildly different from one another? And then, who can keep straight that the Universities of Pennsylvania, Southern California and Richmond are private, while the Universities of Pittsburgh, Texas and Louisville are public?
Taking this another step, why does it make so much sense to consider Davidson and Denison if you already know you like Dickinson? Unlike the two Miamis, these three colleges’ similarities go way beyond their names. They’re all exceptional liberal arts colleges in quaint suburban communities with about 2,000 undergraduates.
So, how can you develop and refine your skills in identifying the similarities between colleges?
It’s important to identify similar colleges because the hallmark of a thoughtful college application list is a set of similar colleges grouped into categories related to cost and likelihood for admission.
The Find the Right College Map can help you start to recognize important similarities. Of course, visiting a college’s website or – better still – making a campus visit will take your understanding to another level. This map is your jumping off point to push your search to a higher level.
So, how can you use it?
1. Note that the map includes six main parameters. Start experimenting with parameters by adjusting just one at a time.
2. Note that the SAT/ACT filter and the Admission Rate filter provide a quick read on the colleges’ selectivity, while the Undergraduate headcount relates more to campus/academic culture.
3. Graduation Rate is my favorite filter. High graduation rates speak volumes about strong campus offerings and academic culture.
4. Make sure you use the MY COLLEGE LIST feature to create lists of colleges that catch your attention. Many people like to create and save lists of like institutions for their future reference.
5. Browse, save and share the PROFILE page for colleges. These pages are a great way to learn about a college and access their key social media sites.
If you visit and love Kansas University, for instance, exploring the map may point you to the Universities of Missouri and Illinois. If Middlebury caught your fancy, the map will help you see how it resembles Bowdoin.
Through your search, keep a pulse on what draws you into considering different colleges and – then – go searching for other colleges with those traits. Ask yourself, “who are the peer institutions for my top choice college?”
What are you waiting for? Start exploring the map right now!
Fitz has dedicated the entirety of his 25 year career to encouraging higher education opportunities. He worked in the Vanderbilt, Duke Law and St. Lawrence admissions offices prior to serving as an enrollment management consultant for dozens of colleges around the country. He partnered with his former Vanderbilt colleague, Nicole Cook, to form Find The Right College and support their mission to make trustworthy college counseling more accessible.