Find a college
Find the right college for you!
You've taken all the tests and made the grades. Now it's time for you to decide where to go to school!
There are lots of schools to choose from, so make it easy on yourself. Follow these steps to help you make this important decision.
Go to your school's guidance office, library, or career center. Ask the counselors what information they have about colleges and careers.
Counselors can help you focus on your needs and goals. Counselors have information about different types of schools. Counselors can also help you find information about specific colleges you are interested in attending.
Your counselor can also help you collect or prepare application materials.
Start your shopping by finding which colleges best match your needs and goals. A good starting point is to visit the College Navigator web site.
College Navigator helps you search for a school based on lots of factors such as location, size, and degrees offered. Just enter your choices, and the search tool will show you schools that might be a good fit for you. This site allows you to see and compare the profiles of nearly 7,000 colleges and universities across the nation.
You should continue shopping by taking a trip to your local library. Many libraries have copies of college catalogs for you to browse through. Call ahead to find out which branch has the best selection and ask if they have a college counseling staff on hand to help you with your selection.
Here’s another good idea - get information about the current freshman class at the colleges you might want to attend. You can get this information from the college's website, catalog and admissions office. You can get information such as the average high school grade-point average and average entrance test score for it's current freshmen class. Many schools require you to take an entrance test like the SAT or ACT, have a good high school record, and complete certain courses in high school.
The inclusion of these links does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by the U.S. Department of Education. The U.S. Department of Education's Student Aid Web site may contain information that is copyrighted by others. Proper written permission must be obtained from copyright holder prior to reproduction of such information in any form. The U.S. Department of Education's Student Aid Web site may also contain hyperlinks and URLs created and maintained by outside organizations. The U.S. Department of Education is not responsible for the accuracy of this information and inclusion does not constitute an endorsement of any products or services offered.
You hear it from colleges. Come visit! You hear it from your high school counselor. Have you visited any campuses yet? So, what's the big deal about seeing a college?
You can't judge a college by its brochure. A campus visit is your opportunity to get a firsthand view of a college. A college catalog, viewbook, or website can only show you so much. To really get a feel for the school, you need to walk around the campus, sit in on a class, and visit the dorms.
Get answers to your questions. A visit also gives you the chance to talk to students, faculty, and financial aid and admissions folks. You can get answers to questions, like:
- What is the average class size? The ratio of students to faculty?
- How is the food?
- What kinds of activities does the school provide?
- What are the dorm rooms like and will there be ample space for my stuff?
Get valuable information. Pick up any official school material you see, such as brochures and financial aid forms. Don't forget to get business cards, too, so you'll have a real, live contact if you have a question about admission or financial aid. Student-produced material will give you a sense of what campus life is really like. Check out bulletin boards to see what's going on around campus, what parties are advertised, and what the day-to-day energy of the place is.
Be realistic. Look at your interests, SAT scores and high-school grades. What schools will you most likely be accepted into? Apply to more than one school.
Ultimately, it's your decision. Do you feel comfortable walking around campus? Do you click with the students and faculty? Spending time on a campus allows you to determine if a school is a good match.
Campus Visit Checklist
Here are things you shouldn't miss while visiting a college. Take a look at this list before planning campus trips to make sure that you allow enough time on each campus to get a sense of what the school and the life of its students is really like.
- Take a campus tour.
- Schedule an interview with an admissions officer.
- Get business cards and names of people you meet for future contacts.
- Pick up financial aid forms.
- Sit in on a class of a subject that interest you.
- Talk to a professor in your chosen major or in a subject that interest you.
- Talk to coaches of sports in which you might participate.
- Talk to a student or counselor in the career center.
- Spend the night in a dorm if the school allows this.
- Read the student newspaper.
- Scan bulletin boards to see what day-to-day student life is like.
- Eat in the cafeteria.
- Ask a student why he/she chose this college.
- Ask a student what he/she hates/loves about the college.
- Browse the college bookstore.
- Ask a student what he/she does on the weekends.
- Walk or drive around the community surrounding the campus.
- Imagine yourself attending this college for four years.
Can’t visit in-person? These websites can help you as you plan your college tours:
- www.eCampusTours.com offers virtual college tours of different schools
- www.CampusTours.com links you to profiles of colleges and provides virtual tours
- www.theU.com offers DVDs with tours of many campuses
- www.collegiatechoice.com offers videos of student-guided college walking tours
You’ve heard it before --- a college education is one of the greatest investments you can make in your future. A college degree almost guarantees that you will earn more than someone without a degree. But it will enrich your life in many other ways. The people you meet. The classes you take. Experiences of a lifetime.
A vital aspect of preparing for college involves preparing to pay for college. And it can be affordable. While some colleges have higher tuition than others, don't cross any colleges off your list because of price.
Make sure the school gives you a clear statement of its tuition and fees. Remember that any financial aid you get will be applied first to paying the school’s tuition and fees. If there is any money left over, the school will give it to you to help you pay for things such as books, food and housing.
Make sure you apply for financial aid. Do not assume that you are not eligible. See the Paying for College section.
Applying to college means more than just filling out forms. You need to:
- understand each school's requirements,
- gather information,
- meet deadlines, and
- pay any necessary fees for each application submitted.
A college's application process may seem a little overwhelming, but once you have a clear picture of everything that's involved, you can determine what needs to be done.
A great starting point is the Federal Student Aid website There you will find information about the best time to apply as well as the different stages of the college application process.