Researching Colleges

Researching colleges and discovering what they have to offer is a vital part of this process. It is up to you to do the early work to find colleges that match your needs. It takes time but is worth it in the long run. Make the search personal and make it count for you, not your friends or parents. The first place to begin discovering your options is the College Counseling Office, where many of the following resources can be found.
Naviance/Family Connection
Naviance/Family Connection is a special website that the MA College Counseling Office uses that is specifically designed to help give further guidance for our students who are preparing for life after Marin Academy. We require all MA juniors to register; each junior will receive a registration code during College Night in January. This website aids students in their search process and allows the college counseling office to communicate more effectively with students and parents.
College Websites
Through college websites, students can learn about course offerings and admission requirements, read an issue of the student newspaper, contact athletic coaches and alumni, take a virtual tour of the campus, receive a calendar of scheduled events, etc.

Other Websites About Colleges/Universities
Students might be interested in viewing these sites for college information:
Guidebooks, Catalogs, Brochures
More traditional means of gathering information can also be useful. Guidebooks are reference guides with some basic information on colleges throughout the country. These books are useful for gathering facts about colleges, e.g., size, location, majors, address to write, etc. Some books (e.g., The Fiske Guide to CollegesPrinceton Review's The Best Guide to CollegesInsider's Guide to Colleges,College Prowler) include not only facts, but also impressions and opinions about colleges. While some are more accurate than others, it is important to realize that these convey a point of view that is not necessarily your own.
College viewbooks describe colleges in detail and are very helpful to look through to get a feeling for what it would be like to be a student there and they are very much marketing pieces. You may also want to look at dvds, departmental brochures, alumni publications and financial aid information as part of your research. As your knowledge of a particular college grows and your interest deepens, you will want to also read college course catalogs. These books provide detailed and important information, including course descriptions, academic regulations, faculty credentials and various student policies.
College Representatives
Each fall more than 100 representatives from colleges throughout the country visit Marin Academy to talk with students about their schools. These college reps are an invaluable source of information and an important personal contact. At MA, college reps visit during the fall beginning in September. The reps will visit at the end of the school day at either 2:25 or 2:50 pm, depending on the day. Rep visits will be posted on the MA website, in the school bulletin, on Naviance/Family Connection, and emailed to you. Juniors and seniors are invited to these meetings. Take advantage of this opportunity!
Talking with People
While you must be careful to form your own opinions, people who have first hand experience with colleges can be an invaluable resource of information. Students who attend a college can tell you, for example, how good the teachers in the biology department really are, how people spend their Friday nights, or how much time they find themselves studying. Seek out people to talk to—friends of the family, friends of friends, alumni of different colleges, Marin Academy alumni, etc. The College Counseling Office can provide you with information about which MA graduates have attended which schools.
Write to or Email Colleges
Send an email with your year in school, your name and address, and information you would like about the school. (It is perfectly acceptable to say you just want general information, but if you would like more detailed information on housing, financial aid, or a specific academic department, etc., indicate this in your letter.) Many colleges have a form you may fill out on their websites.