The next step in your academic career is deciding where to apply to and attend college.
With nearly 5,000 colleges to consider, you have plenty of options to choose from.
But where to begin? Use these steps from BigFuture, the College Board’s free college planning tool, to start your college search:
- Talk to Your Family: Talk to your family about your interests and goals. Ask them about their experience with college, if any, and find out what kind of support they can give you.
- Make a Wish List: What do you want in a college? Make a list that includes everything from possible majors to location to extracurricular activities.
- Get Advice: Talk to a college counselor or your principal about starting your college search. Then talk to people who have been to college — kids from your high school, teachers and relatives — about what college is really like and how they found theirs.
- Read Your Mail: Your mailbox and in-box might already be filled with college brochures and emails. If you aren’t getting college mail yet, visit college websites and sign up for information.
- Go to College Fairs: You can get a lot of information about different colleges in one place at a college fair. You’ll meet college representatives who can talk to you and answer questions about their colleges, and you can sign up for college mailing lists. Check out BigFuture’s College Fair Checklist.
- Explore Online: A visit to a college’s website can give you an idea of what student life and classes are like. You can take virtual campus tours, check out classes and even contact admission officers and current students with questions.
- Visit a Campus: Get a taste of college life by visiting a nearby college. You can explore the campus, talk to college students and get a better sense of what you do and don’t want in a college.
- Put It All Together: Use all of the information you’ve gathered to make a list of the colleges you’re interested in. Don’t limit yourself. You can use this list to get a better idea of what’s important to you in a college and where you want to go.
Applying to college is exciting step, but it’s one that takes planning.
BigFuture can help you from your first thoughts about college to your first day on campus.
Create a College Board account today to create your personal college list, save your scholarship searches, compare costs at colleges that interest you, and more.