Insider tips for applying to college, from crafting a list of best-fit schools to making your application stand out.

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Whether you’re a high school sophomore, a parent of a student who hasn’t decided on a major, or a middle-age professional looking for more education, the process of choosing the college that matches your needs can be a challenge.

The most important — and difficult — part of the decision is knowing where to look for information.

On Course provides guidance from school counselors, education consultants, students and colleges to help lead you through one of life’s biggest decisions.

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Admissions decisions aren’t all about you, and nine other take-aways from a decade covering admissions for The Chronicle of Higher Education.

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One approach to building a college-going culture revolves around validation theory, convincing kids that they belong.

Brooklyn College students walk between classes on campus in New York. (Bebeto Matthews / AP file photo)

Transferring from a two-year college to a four-year school should be simple, but many students encounter problems.

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Catherine Sun, of Tianjin, China, attends Seattle Central College. (Lora Shinn / Special to On Course)

Community colleges offer convenience, flexibility and affordability in one tidy setting.

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Community college pays off, both financially and academically.

Interlake High School senior and college applicant Ethan Soloman plays French horn in the Seattle Youth Symphony orchestra. Evidence a student has a “rich and fulfilling” life outside of the classroom is one thing Adam Miller, director of admissions at Whitman College, says colleges want to see in applicants. (Courtesy of Christopher Reicks)

“Colleges have gone from wanting kids to be well-rounded to wanting them to be specialists,” one Seattle consultant says. “Schools like to admit unique individuals who stand out.”

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Don’t be afraid to set ambitious goals. Colleges and universities offer many resources that can help you achieve them.

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From handling illnesses to coping with homesickness, new college students are often at a loss for how to function in the mature world they’ve joined.

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(Courtesy of Emily Wagner Gallagher)

The right college for you is one that resonates with who you are — in and out of the classroom — and inspires you to achieve your dreams.

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