Read the Guides - general and specific. In the College Section of the Library, there are general encyclopedic guides, with raw facts and data about all the four-year colleges in the country, selective guides by major field of study, and there are specific guides about good small colleges, art schools, environmental programs and so forth. The College Office keeps the latest of each of these in the Office, plus even more guides. The College Section also has CD-ROMs sent by colleges, and videos with the TV/VCR to watch them.
More Reading. By the College Office, to be read there, are college catalogs and viewbooks. In the catalogs, particularly, you can find specific information about courses, requirements, the application procedure, financial aid, et cetera. When you have identified a college as generally interesting to you, you can check it out in greater detail here.
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VISIT. After a while, all the colleges' marketing makes all the colleges look alike. The only way to get a feel for any of them is to get to the campus. It would be impossible to over-emphasize the importance of visiting any college you plan to apply to. (If it is impossible to visit a given campus, say some counselors, you might ask yourself whether it's a realistic college to have on your list.) During your senior year, you are permitted two class days each semester for visiting colleges. As you gather information about a college to which you might apply, find out what they expect in terms of high school courses to be taken, standardized testing, their timeline for application, any supplementary material to be submitted, interviews or visits as part of the application process. Then you can organize what you have to do. Artists should expect to put together a portfolio, even if applying to a liberal arts college; musicians and actors should send a tape; athletes should get in touch with college coaches and ask for a letter to those coaches from their high school coach(es).