Tips to Jumpstart Your College Search

By Jacqueline G. Goodwin, Ed. D.

Ask yourself some questions. Ask yourself: What am I interested in? How do I spend my free time? What do I feel passionate about? How do I learn best? What do I think I want to do in the future?

Decide what matters most to you. For some students, sports and activities are very important. Other students want a challenging academic environment. Look at your answers to the first tip. What do they say about you and what you may like in a college?

What’s important to you? Ask yourself what’s important to you, where you want to be, and who you want to become. Then you can figure out what types of colleges will allow you to reach your goals. Consider size, location, distance from home, available majors and classes, housing options, student body demographics, available extracurricular activities, and campus atmosphere.

Comfort and flexibility. Which of these aspects are things you feel you must have to be comfortable at a college? Which things are you flexible on?

Preferences and goals. What do you want to accomplish in college? Do you want to train for a specific job or get a wide-ranging education? If you have a major in mind, are the colleges you’re considering strong in that area?

Talk to people who know you. Tell parents, teachers, relatives, family friends and your school counselor about your goals, and ask if they can suggest colleges that may be a good fit for you.

Don’t limit your search. At the start of this process, you may rule out colleges because you think that they are too expensive or too hard to get into, but this may not be the reality. Remember that financial aid can make college more affordable and colleges look at more than just grades and test scores.