Research

Research

The research process is vital to the college search. Because the student’s goal should be to find the college that is right for them, it is their responsibility to gather as much information as they can about potential schools. The process of choice is theirs. Our expectation is that every student be the expert to each of the schools to which they plan to apply. The majority of information is easily accessible online. Spend time researching various sites. Another important source of information are college visits.
 
Selecting a Range
 
While it’s not unusual for students to talk of their “first choice” college, it’s a rare individual for whom it can be said that there exists but a single, best college.Even if, as a result of the homework students do on colleges, they arrive at a point where enough preference is a given to a school to consider it the first choice, the final list should include a number of colleges, anyone of which they should be happy to attend if admitted.
 
“How many colleges should I apply to?”
We normally suggest that students apply to between 6-8 colleges. If you apply to fewer than that, than you may not have a good range of schools. If students apply to more than that, they may spend a lot of unnecessary time filling out applications and struggle to present a quality application to university. Each year, ISM’s average applications per students is between 6 and 7.
 
Selecting a Range
To make certain a student will be admitted to at least one, they should apply to a range of colleges. This means a student should apply to some colleges that may be a long shot (referred to as “reach” or “stretch”), others that are mid-range of competitiveness (called “targets”), and others that they are likely to get into (called “safeties” or insurance). This can be determined by comparing GPA, SAT, or IB Predicted Grades with what the college normally accepts. This information can be obtained through college websites, or Naviance: Family Connection if past ISM students have applied. Students should apply to:
  • one or two selective schools 
  • three to four colleges in the mid-range of competitiveness in which they have a realistic chance of acceptance
  • one or two that the student feels confident will accept them
Students must be sure that their safety school is a school they wouldn’t mind attending if they had to. Stranger things have happened. It’s important to remember that what may be a safety school for you, might be a reach for one of your friends. The categorization varies for each student. There are no guarantees in admission.
 
Compare Scores (GPA, SAT, and IB Predicted)
To determine what are “reaches”, “targets”, and “safeties” for the student, check what scores, GPA’s, and IB predicted grades students usually need to get admitted. While schools requiring specific IB predicted grades are usually quite strict (UK, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong), the US and Canada aren’t always that way. Students may be tempted to eliminate schools if they don’t have SAT or ACT scores that place them in the middle 50% band. All colleges want to look selective and improve their U.S. News & World Report rating. Sometimes they do that by eliminating the scores of minorities or athletes, who as a group might not perform to the same standard as others. It may be easier or harder to get into a US college than the scores suggest. We suggest the student have a consultation with their counselor before finalizing a list and also consult the scattergrams in Naviance: Family Connection.
 

There are a number of sites students and parents can access to begin researching colleges and universities in addition to university specific sites. Links to these are available in Naviance: Family Connection.