Academics
College Counseling

College Search

Researching Colleges

Sources of Information on Colleges

There are many sources of information about colleges. The Internet, alumni, and guidebooks are just some of the many avenues by which students and families can gather information about colleges and universities. By beginning the research process early in the junior year, students and families can alleviate much of the stress associated with this process and often can make more appropriate applications to institutions that will fit with a student’s interests, strengths, involvements, and personality. It is never too early to begin researching colleges (i.e.: freshman and sophomore years). Even casual visits to college campuses as part of a family vacation can initiate interest and spark excitement in the process. While Web sites and guidebooks are helpful resources, nothing can replace visiting colleges in person. This is the best method of investigating colleges and universities.

We encourage students to apply to five to eight schools of varying selectivity, with the goal of having multiple options in the spring. Students should limit their lists to 15 colleges.

We recommend that students begin their college research early with the help of the following:

List of 7 items.

  • Campus Visits

    As mentioned above, nothing comes close to getting a real feel for a school than a campus visit. Students and families are encouraged to visit as many campuses as possible to get a feel of what sort of environment (urban/rural; large/small enrollment; private/public/religious, etc.) feels “right.” Campus visit offerings can vary from institution to institution, but here are a few of the most common requests:

    Tour – Campus tours are generally hosted by a current student and often run throughout the day at pre-appointed times. Students and families are strongly encouraged to tour a school and information on tour times and registration procedures can generally be found on the college’s Web site or through a call to the admission office. In the event that scheduling precludes a formal tour, ask the admission office for a self-directed walking tour.

    Information Session – The information session generally piggy-backs a campus tour (either before or immediately following) and is often run by admission personnel. Information sessions are intended to give students and families and overview of the campus community, with special emphasis on admission and financial aid processes. Often, there is an opportunity for Q&A.

    Interviews – Some institutions offer interview opportunities, while others do not simply because of demands. Interviews can vary in nature – some are evaluative (meaning the notes taken during the interview will become part of a student’s file for admission) while others are informational. If an interview is suggested, students are encouraged to make an appointment. Also, consider meeting with a financial aid officer.

    Class Visits – Often admission offices will arrange for prospective students to sit in on a college course to get a sense of faculty teaching style and academic offerings. If this is of interest, students are encouraged to call the admission office and inquire about availability.

    Overnights – An overnight visit can really provide students with an opportunity to view the campus as if they were a real student. Prospective student are often paired with an enrolled student of similar interests and involvements. Student hosts are arranged through the admission office or visitor center and are generally available in a student’s senior year.

    Students and families are advised to make sure to schedule enough time on campus so that they can get everything in. This may include going to the bookstore, checking out library and computing facilities, or speaking with a coach. Remember to pack a camera and a notebook, as many institutions will begin to look familiar after a while. Also, students are encouraged to develop a list of preferences before visiting any campus. As campus visits are completed, students can compare their list of preferences against other campuses.
  • Holy Innocents’ Alumni

    One of the best sources of information about a specific institution can come from Holy Innocents’ alumni who are currently attending an institution. These students can speak to the current academic and social climate of an institution and can often provide interested students with unique insight that only an enrolled student can provide. 
  • College Alumni

    While not currently attending an institution, alumni can provide useful insight into a school and can offer recommendations and advice on things to consider when visiting a campus.
  • Internet

    This is perhaps the most comprehensive and detailed source of information on college and universities. While it cannot provide the human perspective on a collegiate experience, the internet can be a fabulous starting point for research. Nearly every higher education institution in the country hosts a Web site that details among other things: admission requirements and timelines, academic course offerings and major/minor requirements, departmental directories and contact information, as well as details on application procedures. In addition, many sites host virtual tours and interactive Q&A opportunities with admission staff and/or current students. Prospective students are encouraged to fill out a “web inquiry card” to be added to a school’s mailing list for those institutions that are of interest. 
  • Guidebooks

    Titles like The Fiske Guide to Colleges, Cool Colleges, and The Best 337 Colleges are just some of the many guidebooks you will find on the shelves of any major bookstore or the Holy Innocents’ College Counseling Office. Principally, guidebooks fall into two categories: comparative guides or subjective guides. The first generally gathers information directly from the admission offices at various institutions and can provide quick reference and statistical information. Subjective guides often draw their information from current students or author visits to campuses. Ranking guides, such as US News and World Report, can also be placed in this category. Rankings, while helpful in some ways, can often provide an inaccurate picture of an institution’s worth or selectivity. Rankings often take into account a number of factors (e.g.: “financial resources" rank) that while interesting, often do not have much bearing on the experience or happiness of current students.

    Keep in mind that when reading these sorts of publications, you are obtaining the views of only a small segment of the population. We advise that students and families utilize a combination of both subjective and objective guides when initiating their research.
  • College Representatives at Holy Innocents’

    Each year, nearly 80 colleges and universities send admission representatives to Holy Innocents’ to speak with students and answer their questions. The conversations and presentations are a convenient way for students to establish contact with admission personnel and to learn more about the school and its admission process. The meetings are also useful for students who want to learn a bit more regarding an institution about which they might know very little. All Upper School students are allowed to attend these meetings during class time with the provision that they have, 1) asked their teacher for permission, and 2) are not missing any required quiz, test, or presentation.
  • The College Counseling Team

    The Holy Innocents’ College Counseling Team is available to help students and families throughout the college search and application processes. Your counselor will provide advice, answer questions, and guide your family through the entire application process. Please know that your counselor is your advocate and only wants what is best for you. Finally, your counselor will write a letter of recommendation on behalf of Holy Innocents’, as part of your college application. The counseling office will also facilitate the submission of official Holy Innocents’ transcripts and credentials.
805 Mount Vernon Highway, NW, Atlanta, GA 30327
Phone: (404) 255-4026

About HIES

Holy Innocents’ is the largest Episcopal parish day school in the United States, a fully accredited, college-preparatory day school for 3-year-olds through 12th-grade boys and girls.