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How to Find Colleges to Apply to 

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Typing on a laptop in a table.

How to Find Colleges to Apply to

How does one find colleges to apply to? The process of selecting a college can be overwhelming, given the significant choices at hand. The college you attend will impact the kind of education you receive, the people you meet, and the opportunities available to you.

While it might seem overwhelming, don’t worry! You can simplify the process by conducting research and seeking feedback to ensure you’re making the best choice.

This advice is helpful whether you’re deciding where to apply or choosing between colleges that have accepted you.

Young woman looking at a laptop while smiling.

It’s essential to consider various metrics to find a college that best fits your needs and preferences. A metric is a measurement that gauges the quality of an attribute, essentially indicating whether something is good or bad. Metrics can fall into several categories.

For instance, if you want to evaluate a movie’s worthiness, you might read its reviews and check its star rating. Similarly, when deciding on a college, you can use a comparable guiding principle.

Which metrics should you prioritize in your search for the ideal educational institution? Here are some metrics to consider in the areas of academics, student life, and financial considerations.

Academic Life: Key Metrics for College Selection

Acceptance Ratio

When finding colleges to apply to, consider their acceptance rates. Those with strong academic records might target schools with lower acceptance rates, while those with mixed records might aim for schools with higher acceptance rates to increase their chances of admission.

Graduation Rate

The end goal is graduation, so look at a college’s graduation rate. After all, being admitted is only the first step.

Freshmen Retention Rate

This metric indicates the percentage of freshmen who return for their sophomore year. A high retention rate suggests students are generally satisfied with their first-year experience.

Student-to-Faculty Ratio

If one-on-one interactions with instructors are crucial, closely examine the student-to-faculty ratio.

School Size

Consider total enrollment, as it can affect your comfort and integration. Do you prefer intimate settings where everyone knows you or larger campuses offering anonymity?

Two students studying in a desk.

Postgraduate Opportunities

For those eyeing graduate or professional schools post-undergrad, research how many alumni pursue further education and where.

Employment After Graduation

If immediate employment is a priority, investigate the percentage of students who secure jobs right after graduation. Some colleges offer robust job placement programs.

Curriculum & Class Availability

Different colleges have varying curricular structures. In finding the right college to apply, ensure their course offerings align with your academic and scheduling needs.

Faculty Caliber

Research the credentials and real-world experience of the faculty. For instance, Miami University in Ohio boasts a significant percentage of faculty from Ivy League institutions.

Young woman taking an exam with her fellow classmates.

Academic Department Reputation

Beyond individual instructors, evaluate the department’s reputation for your intended major.

Educational Support Opportunities

For those considering a career in academia, opportunities like teaching assistantships can be invaluable.

Study Abroad Opportunities

If studying in another country appeals to you, investigate available programs and related financial aid.

Accreditation

Ensure the institution is accredited, especially if you’re eyeing postgraduate studies. This is also crucial for financial aid eligibility.

Program of Instruction

Align your interests with the college’s strengths. Some colleges are renowned for specific programs. Additionally, understand the instructional approach. For instance, Reed College emphasizes independent study and mandates a senior thesis for graduation.

Student Life: Key Metrics for College Selection

Living on Campus

College life extends beyond academics. The majority of a student’s time might be spent in dorm rooms. For a vibrant social life, living with other students is essential. When finding the right college to apply to, ensure the institution has ample dormitory spaces, especially in urban settings where “on-campus” might be spread out. For instance, George Washington University in D.C. has residence halls scattered across the city.

Greek Life

Fraternities and sororities can play a significant role in a student’s social experience. If Greek life is important to you, ensure your target schools have a vibrant Greek community.

Location

Every prospective student should consider location. Whether you prefer city life or a rural setting affects your choice. For instance, if you’re eyeing a career in finance, a school in New York City might be more beneficial than one in Kansas. Proximity to potential employers or internship opportunities is also essential.

Campus Size

Consider whether you’d prefer a sprawling campus or one where everything is within a short walking distance.

Meal Plans

Are affordable meal plans available? Some universities, like George Washington University, offer flexible payment systems for meals. Check if participation is mandatory and if there are additional benefits.

Young man looking away while in front of her laptop.

Extracurricular Activities

The variety and availability of student organizations can enrich your college experience. From religious groups to academic clubs, ensure the institution offers activities that pique your interest.

Athletics

Consider the school’s sports culture, from student-athlete ratios to fan engagement.

Safety

Research reported incidents on campus. How proactive is the institution’s security?

Students walking in the Yale campus.

Social Scene

If a vibrant party scene is essential, consult rankings. Schools like Ohio University, Arizona State University, and the University of Georgia have notable reputations in this regard.

Alumni Network

A robust alumni network can be invaluable, from job hunting to settling in new cities.

Demographics

Review the student body’s diversity in terms of gender, race, religion, and more.

Transportation

Consider on-campus transportation and connectivity to nearby amenities. Also, check parking availability and rules for student vehicles.

Spirituality

If religious alignment is crucial, ensure the institution respects and possibly aligns with your spiritual beliefs. Some schools might require spiritual agreements or honor codes.

Financial Factors: Key Metrics for College Selection

Cost

For many, the cost is a significant factor that makes finding colleges to apply to a challenging task, especially without a substantial college savings fund. It’s vital to consider not only tuition fees but also room and board. While some might explore pricier options, for others, graduating without loans may be the priority.

Financial Aid Opportunities

Certain colleges are more generous with financial aid than others. If you foresee needing financial support, target institutions known for their aid packages. Most colleges’ websites provide insights into the average financial assistance amounts and the proportion of students receiving them. One major factor to consider in finding the right college to apply is investigating scholarship and grant availability.

Working Students

Many students juggle jobs with their studies. Some colleges, like Berry College in Northwest Georgia, are renowned for their high percentage of working students and offer numerous job opportunities. In contrast, others might prioritize academic commitments over employment.

Group of students huddles under a tree.

Work-Study Programs

Work-study initiatives can be a boon for students needing financial aid. These jobs, offered by the institution itself, can complement grants and loans.

Application Fees

Application costs can accumulate if you’re considering multiple colleges. If you’re on a tight budget, reflect on the necessity of applying to institutions with hefty fees, mainly if acceptance seems uncertain.

Graduate Debt

Research the average student debt carried by graduates. For example, the class of 2011 had an alarming national average debt of $22,900 upon graduation. This metric can give insights into how manageable financial commitments might be post-graduation.

Finding the ideal college to apply to can be daunting. To simplify the process, focus on what you aim to accomplish in higher education. Instead of dissecting every metric for every college, prioritize based on your personal requirements. It might demand time and diligence, but the outcome is worth the effort: choosing the best fit for your academic and financial needs.

What are the Easiest Colleges to Get Into?

Finding the right college to apply is often fraught with stress and uncertainty. The waiting period post-application can be particularly agonizing, given the time lag before receiving acceptance letters. Thus, it’s prudent to have a few “safety schools” on your list—colleges where your chances of acceptance are notably high.

What Does “Easy to Get Into” Mean?

The term “easy to get into” is relative and largely hinges on your personal academic achievements and application quality.

For instance, if you’ve achieved a perfect score of 1600 on the SAT or a full score of 36 on the ACT, most college applications will likely be a breeze for you. However, for students with below-average grades, colleges with high acceptance rates and minimal entry requirements might be considered “easy.”

Regardless of your academic standing, integrating safety schools into your college application strategy is crucial. No student wants to approach the spring of their senior year devoid of acceptance offers. Hence, it’s essential to apply to a few colleges where admission is almost guaranteed.

Initially, we’ll explore U.S. institutions boasting the highest acceptance rates, implying the majority of their applicants are admitted.

Subsequently, we’ll delve into colleges offering “guaranteed admission,” where meeting specific criteria assures you a place.

Finally, we’ll examine colleges where the typical student scores are on the lower end for standardized tests like the SAT or ACT. If your scores are slightly below average, these institutions could be viable safety options.

What are the Top 100 Colleges with the Highest Acceptance Rates?

Colleges with admission rates below 10 percent are among the most competitive. For instance, Harvard has an acceptance rate of just 3.43 percent, meaning only about 34 out of every 1000 applicants are admitted.

In contrast, there are colleges with acceptance rates approaching 100 percent, indicating they have much less competitive application processes. If you apply to one of these institutions, your chances of being accepted are almost certain. Unlike community colleges, which typically have 100 percent acceptance rates, many of these high-acceptance institutions are part of state-run university systems.

School City State Admission Rate
Academy of Art University San Francisco CA 100%
Boston Architectural College Boston MA 100%
Broward College Fort Lauderdale FL 100%
Cameron University Lawton OK 100%
Dickinson State University Dickinson ND 100%
Dixie State University Saint George UT 100%
Glenville State College Glenville WV 100%
Goddard College Plainfield VT 100%
Granite State College Concord NH 100%
Lake-Sumter State College Leesburg FL 100%
Lake Washington Institute of Technology Kirkland WA 100%
LeMoyne-Owen College Memphis TN 100%
Lewis-Clark State College Lewiston ID 100%
Maharishi International University Fairfield IA
Mary Baldwin University Staunton VA 100%
Montana State University — Billings Billings MT 100%
Montana State University — Northern Havre MT 100%
New England College Henniker NH 100%
New School of Architecture and Design San Diego CA 100%
Rochester College Rochester Hills MI 100%
South Florida State College Avon Park FL 100%
St. Petersburg College St. Petersburg FL 100%
Thomas More College of Liberal Arts Merrimack NH 100%
University of Maryland University College Adelphi MD 100%
University of Pikeville Pikeville KY 100%
University of Texas — El Paso El Paso TX 100%
Utah Valley University Orem UT 100%
Wayne State College Wayne NE 100%
Wilmington University New Castle DE 100%
Adams State University Alamosa CO 99%
Black Hills State University Spearfish SD 99%
Central Christian College McPhearson KS 99%
La Roche University Pittsburgh PA 99%
Martin Methodist College Pulaski TN 99%
Milligan University Milligan TN 99%
Naropa University Boulder CO 9%
Northeastern State University Talequah OK 99%
Shawnee State University Portsmouth OH 99%
University of Maine—Ft. Kent Ft. Kent ME 99%
University of Maine—Machias Machias ME 99%
University of Maine—Presque Isle Presque Isle ME 99%
Concordia University–St. Paul St. Paul MN 98%
Covenant College Lookout Mountain GA 98%
Eastern Oregon University La Grande OR 98%
The Evergreen State College Olympia WA 98%
National Louis University Chicago IL 98%
Nyack College Nyack NY 98%
Purdue University—Northwest Hammond IN 98%
University of Mary Bismark ND 98%
University of the Virgin Islands St. Thomas VI 98%
Alabama State University Montgomery AL 97%
Benedictine College Atchison KS 97%
Bringham Young University — Idaho Rexburg ID 97%
California University of Pennsylvania California PA 97%
Columbia College Columbia SC 97%
Mississippi University for Women Columbus MS 97%
Oregon Tech Klamath Falls OR 97%
University of Providence Great Falls MT 97%
Warner Pacific University Portland OR 97%
Wayland Baptist University Plainview TX 97%
Western Kentucky University Bowling Green KY 97%
Bennett College Greensboro NC 96%
Blue Mountain College Blue Mountain MS 96%
Brewton-Parker College Mount Vernon GA 96%
Eastern Washington University Cheney WA 96%
Grambling State College Grambling LA 96%
Grand View University Des Moines IA 96%
Lancaster Bible College Lancaster PA 96%
Life Pacific College San Dimas CA 96%
Louisiana State University—Shreveport Shreveport LA 96%
Pittsburg State University Pittsburg KS 96%
Portland State University Portland OR 96%
Saint Martin’s University Lacey WI 96%
Sheperd University Sheperdstown WV 96%
Spalding University Louisville KY 96%
Sweet Briar College Sweet Briar VA 96%
University of Kentucky Lexington KY 96%
University of Saint Francis Fort Wayne IN 96%
University of Wyoming Laramie WY 96%
Arkansas Tech University Russellville AR 95%
Chestnut Hill College Philadelphia PA 96%
Neumann University Aston PA 96%
Northwest Nazarene University Nampa ID 96%
Sterling College Craftsbury Common VT 96%
University of the West Rosemead CA 96%
Arkansas Tech University Russellville AR 95%
Austin Peay State University Clarksville TN 95%
Bethany College Bethany WV 95%
Gwynedd Mercy University Gwynedd Valley PA 95%
Lindsey Wilson College Columbia KY 95%
Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania Lock Haven PA 95%
Mount Aloysius College Cresson PA 95%
Prescott College Prescott AZ 95%
Trinity Washington University Washington, DC DC 95%
University of Toledo Toledo OH 95%
University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee Milwaukee WI 95%

Which US Colleges Guarantee You Admission?

If you meet the academic requirements of certain colleges, the admissions office might admit you without further review based on their policies. Typically, the institution will mandate a minimum grade point average and a minimum SAT/ACT score. If you surpass these requirements, you’ll be accepted.

But how do these schools differ from those with a one hundred percent acceptance rate?

Schools that offer guaranteed admission are generally more selective compared to institutions that accept all applicants. For example, while the University of Texas has an overall acceptance rate of 36%, if you’re a resident of Texas and ranked in the top 6% of your high school class, you will be granted automatic admission.

Thus, gaining admission to these schools is generally tougher (and they often have stronger reputations) than those that accept all applicants. If you meet the criteria, these are your best bets for surefire schools.

While each institution has its distinct requirements, we’ve consolidated the pertinent information from these schools into a single list for your convenience:

  • Arizona State University
  • California State University
  • Central Washington University
  • Florida Public Universities
  • Kansas State University
  • Middle Tennessee State University
  • Mississippi State University
  • Missouri State University
  • Montana State University
  • North Dakota State University
  • Oklahoma State University
  • South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
  • Southern Illinois University
  • Texas A&M University
  • Truman State University
  • Tulane University
  • University of Arizona
  • University of Colorado
  • University of Houston
  • University of Iowa
  • University of Kansas
  • University of Mississippi
  • University of Nevada
  • University of Southern Mississippi
  • University of St. Francis
  • University of Texas
  • University of Wyoming
  • Washington State University

If you’re only considering one school from this list, think about applying to the one where you’ll face the least competition for admission.

Universities and Colleges with the Lowest Average SAT and ACT Scores

In addition to those previously mentioned, several schools have notably low average SAT/ACT scores. If your score exceeds their average, your chances of acceptance are promising. Consequently, the list below highlights some colleges that tend to have simpler admission processes.

While some of these institutions were touched upon in the prior section, in this context, we’re focusing on the middle 50 percent (average range) of SAT/ACT scores. The lower score corresponds to the 25th percentile and the higher score to the 75th percentile.

School SAT Middle 50% ACT Middle 50%
Wiley College 640-1020 Avg = 16
Central State University 710-880 14-18
Bethune-Cookman University 710-880 15-17
Jarvis Christian College 720-880 13-17
CUNY Medgar Evers College 730-910 13-16
Rust College 730-890 13-17
Paul Quinn College 730-950 14-17
Paine College 740-930 14-18
Livingstone College 750-930 13-16
Shaw University 763-935 13-16
Pine Manor College 770-970 13-18
Cheyney University of Pennsylvania 770-1030 15-21
Virginia Union University 780-970 13-19
College of St. Elizabeth 790-980 14-18
University of Louisiana at Monroe 800-880 20-25
Chowan University 810-1000 14-18
Kentucky State University 810-990 17-21
Texas Southern University 810-990 15-18
Wesley College 810-1030 16-23
Trinity College of Florida 820-1020 16-19
University of Missouri — Kansas City 820-1010 21-28
Hillsdale Free Will Baptist College 830-1030 Avg = 20
Sul Ross State University 830-1010 15-20
Elizabeth City State University 840-1010 16-21
Huston-Tillotson University 840-1050 16-20
Savannah State University 840-1000 16-19
SUNY Cobleskill 840-1070 20-24
Calumet College of St. Joseph 850-1090 15-21
Post University 850-1100 17-21
Virginia State University 850-1020 15-19
Fayetteville State University 860-1010 16-20
University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff 860-1070 16-20
Lincoln Christian University 880-1050 17-24
Grand View University 890-1150 18-23
Kentucky Christian University 900-1140 18-23
Clark Atlanta University 910-1070 17-22
Northern State University 910-1140 19-24
Marietta College 920-1220 20-25
Missouri Valley College 920-1230 17-26
Texas A&M University — Kingsville 940-1130 17-22
Albertus Magnus College 950-1050 19-29

Even if you’re under the impression that your chances of college admission are slim, it’s essential to strive for improvement on either the SAT or ACT. Elevating your SAT score by 120 points or your ACT score by 3 points can significantly enhance the caliber of colleges you can potentially gain admission to. This, in turn, might influence your earning potential post-graduation.

Finding the ideal college to apply can be a daunting task. If you are seeking guidance for entry into one of the country’s elite universities, Look no further! At AdmissionSight, we boast over a decade of experience guiding students through the competitive admissions landscape.

AdmissionSight is committed to supporting you throughout the college admissions journey, aiming to optimize your chances of entering your dream institution.

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