This is part 1 of a three part series about college search and college counseling during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read Part 2 here and Part 3 here.

The hunt is on to find your best fit school for after graduation. Our College Counselor, Chris Schifani, shares his top 5 tips to find your perfect college this year.

1.

Do virtual college tours and attend virtual college fairs, then follow up with admissions by e-mail to ask any specific questions not covered during the tour. (See https://www.ednavigators.com/virtual-college-tours for some good resources.) 

2.

Research your schools—look at COVID response in addition to things like major and price. The more in-person classes and the lower incidence of infection you can find, the more value you will be getting for your money. 

3.

Work more on your essays, less on SAT/ACT. Almost every college in the US this year is test-optional, meaning students do not need to submit SAT or ACT scores. If a student has good scores, they can still be submitted. If not, showing that a student can articulate her values and desires in a well-written college admissions essay will be more important than ever. 

4.

Cast a wide net, using resources like college guides, the online Common Data Set, and specialty sites like Niche.com and collegedata.com to find schools that may be good fits but that you may not have heard. Big name schools will see increased competition for their brand; but almost everywhere else will have to compete harder for students, so you may find a great education for a fantastic price if you’re willing to do a little digging. 

5.

Be mindful of your money—while you can save some by starting at a community college like CNM, you may actually have more access to good jobs and internships in fields that interest you if you go to a school out of state—even if that will put you a little bit in debt when you graduate. Know where your money comes from, and only spend it on things you absolutely need. Fill out the FAFSA and CSS PROFILE early to help colleges get you the most aid possible, and look at Net Price, EFC, and loan calculators to estimate total cost before you commit anywhere. (See https://cssprofile.collegeboard.org/ for the CSS PROFILE, https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa for the FAFSA, and https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/pay-for-college/tools-calculators for some useful calculators.) 

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