Your College Guide
by Carrie Sloan

November 2004 -- How do you choose the perfect school for you? A top college strategist spills .

1. Rank Your Priorities
Applying to college means choosing a community you'll belong to even after you graduate. Ask yourself these key questions: How far from home do you want to go? How big a school do you want? What type of campus: urban, suburban, or rural?

2. Get the Lowdown
Next, get info from anyone you know who goes to a school you like, especially acquaintances from your hometown, who will be a good gauge of how you'll fit in there.

3. Pretend You're There
Then visit each college's web site and look up its student organizations. Are there any you want to join? Create a mock class schedule: Pick a department you're interested in (such as English) and see if you like the classes. This will give you a clear picture of what your life would be like there.

4. Schedule a Visit
Now it's time to visit the schools you're sold on but don't just trail along on the campus tour. Take time to peek into classes, ask students questions and call the admissions office ahead of time to schedule an overnight dorm stay.

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