AIM's Guide to Researching Colleges

The college application process is long, with many steps and checklists. Of these steps, one of the most important is the process of researching colleges and creating a solid college list that's best suited for you.

By now, you should know the career path you're looking to embark on, or at the least, a general understanding of the area of work you want to get into. Need help with identifying your career path? Take a look at our article on Jobs of the Future and how to prepare for them.

Pro tip: Researching colleges sometimes helps you refine your career choice.

A few things to consider when curating your college list:

Ultimately, your biggest goal in going to a college or university is to learn. So, make this your priority. Ask yourself some critical questions:
  • Does this school offer the course of study I need, in the way that I need it? Take the time to read the curriculum and view the courses you'll be required to sit.
  • What are the academic requirements for admission? Do I meet them? If not, can I meet them in time for application season?
  • How flexible is the course selection process? Am I able to also sit courses from other disciplines and majors to support my interests?
  • What opportunities for personal and professional growth exist?
  • Does the school provide academic support and research/ internship opportunities?
Remember that some colleges are better at delivering technical proficiencies, while others are remarkable in preparing you for theoretical work. Consider which of these is more critical for your intended profession and allow this to inform your decision.
Especially if you'll be staying on campus, the social aspect of a college is also a very important consideration to make. Consider:
  • Which social groups and clubs exist at the school? Particularly for international students, this is critical for the development of community, which helps in alleviating the anxiety of starting a new school.
  • Are any of the school's regulations discriminatory to me or any of my potential peers? How does the school treat with discrimination, bullying etc.? Remember that your comfort is paramount.
  • What is the school's housing policy? Do you have the opportunity to board off-campus?
  • What will I eat? Is there a dining hall? Subsidised lunches? Meal plan?
  • Will I have access to the extracurricular activities that excite me?
It's very important to remember that the college you select is a place you will likely have to live at for the next four years. Comfort and ease have to be major factors in your college selection formula.
We all want the best; however, sometimes we have to balance our optimism with a bit of reality. Sad as it may be, there are some schools that will match all your requirements, but are just out of your league financially. Sit with your parents and discuss your options, consider also financial aid and the varying amounts of aid granted to and by different institutions, for different programs.
These apps websites will prove helpful in your research process:
Take the guesswork out of it for you, and let AIM find the best schools for you! Building a personalized college list just for you is included in AIM's College Advising Program (CAP - Platinum) and AIM's College Navigator GOLD. But we also offer it as a stand alone service! 
Click the button below to book your first College List Builder session in our College List + Strategic Application Plan Bundle with an AIM College Counselling expert.  
Author: AIM Online Academy
AIM Online Academy (was AIM Educational Services) is the leading college prep provider in Jamaica, that helps students maximize their potential as they make the journey towards college in the US, UK and Canada. For over a decade, AIM's team of College Experts & Essay Coaches have assisted students from all over the Caribbean, the USA and Canada get into the college of their dreams with enough scholarship and financial aid to actually attend.

You can find out more about how AIM Online Academy can help YOU here:

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