Study Guide and Glossary
The study guides on this website contain much of the same information as you will find in the CAKE quiz, but in a way that makes specific things you may be looking for easier to find. This particular study guide is focused on ‘college choice’ – information about choosing a college. Click on the letters below to skip to a specific term if you would like.
Costs of State Universities and Colleges (vs. Private and Community Colleges) – While the prices stated by private colleges are usually higher than state colleges, the cost to attend a private college can be less than a state college after considering scholarships they may offer, which can substantially lower the cost to attend. You can find how many students receive scholarships and the average dollar amount of the scholarship by using a tool such as the College Navigator. For the same reason, community colleges do not always cost less to attend than four-year colleges.
Learning about Colleges – Speaking with people in high school (counselors and teachers), at the college (admissions counselors, current students, alumni), and gathering information through the internet (college websites, social media, College Navigator) can all provide useful information and insight to help you figure out where you should apply and eventually attend.
Qualifications – The most important part of your application is your high school transcript, which describes the types of classes you have taken and the grades you have earned. While lower grades in high school may limit the number of colleges a student can apply to, remember that colleges have varying degrees of selectivity (see below).
Quality of Colleges – How do you know when a college provides a ‘quality education’? Just because a college is expensive, large, or offers all small classes does not mean it provides a ‘quality education’ for everyone. Scholarships and other financial aid can make the cost of even the most expensive colleges affordable for talented, deserving students. The quality of an education is at least partly subjective, meaning that what one person perceives to be a valued quality in a college might be valued differently by someone else.
Rankings (such as U.S. News & World Report) – There is A LOT of information to process when considering which college to attend. The rankings provided by places such as the U.S. News & World Report create their rankings by selecting pieces of information that are easily quantifiable and use these to create the rankings – potentially leaving out what is important to an individual student.
Retention Rate – The retention rate is the percentage of students who return to a college as sophomores that started as freshmen, and can be an important indicator to consider when deciding which college to attend. The average retention rate for all four-year colleges is approximately 80% (see this report), but individual colleges can vary dramatically from this average. You can find information about retention and graduation rates (and much more) for colleges using the College Navigator tool provided by the National Center for Education Statistics.
Selectivity – The selectivity of a college refers to the number of applicants that are admitted of all those who applied. The selectivity of both public and private colleges varies greatly, meaning that there are some private colleges that are harder to gain admission to than public colleges, and some public colleges that are harder to gain admission to than private colleges.