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Tips for Narrowing Down a School Search

Sometimes you guys ask really useful questions on our Facebook page. I wanted to share this one, because I think a lot of you may want to know the answer…
...because of the number of University are so high, it really make difficult for me to find the one which may best suit to my situation as an International student. ... When I open the list of all Universities, community [colleges] or other private [colleges] in US, it makes me confuse[d], discouraged and don't know at all which ones to choose.

Honestly, it's difficult for everyone, including Americans. But there are some tools you can use to help narrow down your search, and some strategies that can help you make sense of all the information.

The Princeton Review is one that I know many American students use to find a good match. They have a thing called the "best fit school search," where you can narrow down colleges based on characteristics like their location, characteristics of campus life, and your own credentials. College Board and Peterson's are two other sites that let you search and filter schools, and I'm sure there are many more out there as well.

College Prowler is another site you can use to search for schools that might be a good fit. Newsweek used College Prowler data to create their "Best Colleges for International Students" list.

There's also a new site called Parchment that tries to predict your chances of getting into any given school based on your CV. I don't know how well it works for international students, so if anyone has used it, let us know how it goes.

In the end, I think it's always going to be a bit overwhelming. A lot of people stress about finding the "perfect" school for them. But the fact of the matter is that any school is what you make of it, and most people find their niche wherever they go (and those who don't can always transfer).

One strategy might be to pick one or two characteristics that are important to you (maybe it's financial aid available + urban setting, or good business program + lots of international students, etc.), and then find a few schools that fit those criteria to apply to.

Our writers used a variety of strategies to make their choices: some picked their school because they had friends there, others selected only schools in a particular city, and one used a giant excel spreadsheet to keep track of and rank their options.

[Read more about the strategies our bloggers used to pick their schools]

Here are a few more suggestions from our writers and friends:

Abhushan: and helped me a lot.

Simba: A good starting point would be to visit the EducationUSA advising centre nearest you (you can Google a centre near you).

Jean-Marc: Visit the closest EducationUSA center, talk to former students, connect with student associations, network with alumni, try to discuss with professors, seek testimonials, use social media to connect with advisors, visit Facebook pages etc.

By the way, we don't endorse any particular websites. The ones listed here are tools we happen to have used and found useful or interesting. Nor are we professional admissions experts - these are just our opinions based on our own experiences.

What's your opinion? What advice would you add for making the search less overwhelming? Are there any particular tools or techniques you'd recommend?