1 Identify important characteristics
+ 2 Research schools
= 3 Match the schools that meet your priorities
You’ve identified what is important to you and now it’s time to start researching schools that offer these characteristics.
- Your Guidance Office is a wealth of information and a great place to start. Talk to your counselor about recommended strategies to create an initial list of schools.
Friends and Relatives
- Word of mouth is a great way to identify schools. If someone you respect suggests a school, add it to your possibilities list.
- If you have several characteristics that are equally important, websites like www.Collegeboard.com allow you to complete a survey that then matches colleges to your answers. Try not to be too broad or too narrow in order to get a manageable list.
- If a specific major is your priority, look at U.S.News & World Report’s annual college listing that will rank schools in various fields.
- If a geographical area is your priority, there are publications like the Princeton Review that lists schools by regions.
- For a comparison of costs and education value, review the latest Barron’s Best Buys in College Education.
- Attend the National College Fair in the fall or local college fairs throughout the year.
- Meet with college representatives when they visit your high school.
- Review each college’s site and be sure to request information about the school in general and specific programs.
- Visit each school on your list and even some that are not in order to continue to determine the type of school that will fit you best.
As you perform your research, make sure you update your College Target List as that will help you keep track of the similarities and differences between all of these schools. Every couple of weeks you should take a close look at your list and make adjustments based on what you’ve learned. Decide if you need to narrow it down or expand your horizons. Discuss this with your parents and counselor. And make sure you don't just include the dream schools that may be a reach, but safe ones where you know you will be admitted.