College search and List Building

Tips on How to Start Out Researching Colleges

As Juniors start their second semester in January many begin their college application process by researching colleges and making a list of the ones that they are really interested in and plan on applying to.

Explore your college criteria before starting the college search

Before you start the task of researching colleges it’s a good idea to identify some criteria that guide you in your search of finding colleges that possibly would make a good fit.

Reflect on your high school years and take inventory of the classes you enjoyed most and the extracurricular activities that you loved engaging with every year. Perhaps you also participated in some job shadowing or did a summer internship, or you could do some research. Whatever you did or still do, take note of what you like/d most. This can be a good guide to identify what kind of major you might like to pursue in college.

Great, now you have one college criteria that you can use when searching for colleges. But there are many more. Find out the ones that are important for you and your family. Some college criteria could be ‘location’ (city campus/suburban/rural), ‘university size’ (Large/medium/small), or ‘Greek life’. Think about if you want to stay close to home or move further away, or even go international. One aspect that is important to many families is the cost of attending college.

Once you have all your criteria, you are ready for your first college search. Good websites for this initial search are,, College Navigator by the Department of State, or 

Read about a balanced college list in our next post.


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