The college search: it's arguably the most anticipated period of your high school years. And here you are: ready to begin researching, eager to find your perfect fit and perhaps feeling a little overwhelmed by it all. We get it, so we're letting you in on the five best steps you can take to begin drafting your college list...starting today.
1. Ask yourself questions. What topics am I most interested in? Do I want to be a student-athlete? How do I learn best? What am I passionate about? Where could I see myself living? Once you've figured out what's important to you in a school, you'll have an easier time choosing ones that fit your criteria.
2. Use a search tool. Using similar questions to those listed above, College Search allows you to rank your preferences based on importance, and narrows your search results accordingly. Want credit for your Advanced Placement exams? Have your mind set on studying abroad? Need on-campus housing all four years? Give it a shot...you might be matched with schools you've never considered before.
3. Stick to a number. Start with ten to fifteen schools on your radar, but keep in mind that The College Board recommends applying to five to eight schools. Your list should always be balanced between good matches and reach schools—all of which you'd be happy to attend if you were accepted.
4. Assign a deadline. Plan your campus visits or virtual tours, admissions phone calls and information sessions ahead of application deadlines. You'll have more time to think about your options, and can be sure that you're only applying to the schools that are realistic matches for you.
5. Keep an open mind. Remember that visiting a campus or speaking with an admissions counselor can really change how you see a school—and how well you think you'll fit there. If a school doesn't seem to match all of your criteria, be open to the possibility that they may offer something else that's even better for you.
At the same as you're working on your list, it's a good idea to start thinking about your admissions essay. Download our guide for tips on how to make it stand out!