What is the best way to start researching colleges?

College Search

Our counselors answered:

What is the best way to start researching colleges?

Reecy Aresty
College Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & Author Payless For College, Inc.

What is the best way to start researching colleges?

Talk to your guidance counselor for advice and contact admissions experts for some ideas when you start your own research. Get copies or search the Internet for Princeton Review ratings, CRS (College Raking Service), Best Colleges, and any number of specific reports on engineering, arts, music, drama or other such schools. Be sure to have your checklist out to rate the schools based on your preferences. This is just the beginning!

Sarah Contomichalos
Manager Educational Advisory Services, LLC

What is the best way to start researching colleges?

The best way to start is by spending time on colleges' website. I also recommend Fiske's "Guide to Colleges" as well as "The Insider's Guide to College", our school or local library should have copies of both. In addition, find out from your high school if any recent graduates are attending the colleges you are interested in and try to get in touch with students either when they are visiting home or by Skype or email.

Tyler Burton
President Burton College Tours

What is the best way to start researching colleges?

How you should begin researching colleges depends on what year in high school you are beginning your search. If you have time on your side and are a freshman or sophomore then enjoy surfing the internet to visit college websites and thumb through the college guides in your local book store or library. Look ahead to your family road trips and pick a school ti visit along the way. Learn the art of how to look at a college and venture into the elements of what will make a school a good fit for you. If you are in the second half of high school then do what has been recommended, but turn up the heat. Attend college fairs and plan to take a college campus tour trip. Schedule a series of meetings with your school guidance counselor and attend college nights with your parents.

Joyce Vining Morgan
Founder and college counselor Educational Transitions

What is the best way to start researching colleges?

A general guide is one way. Some are very basic, and others more chatty - check them out at a big bookstore before you buy. General online search engines are similar - there are many, but the www.collegeboard.org is probably already on your radar. Then go to the college websites.

Allen Regar

What is the best way to start researching colleges?

The best way to start researching colleges is to speak with your school guidance counselor or college counselor. These individuals possess a wealth of information about the college search and application process. The one-on-one human interaction with them can provide significantly more meaningful information than utilizing a guidebook or a website. A good counselor should be able to paint a realistic picture of colleges that may be a good fit for you, based on the interaction(s) that you have with him. Additionally, they are able to guide you along the way when you become more deeply involved with the college search process. A guidebook cannot get to know you, but a college counselor can, and he or she should be able adjust what information to provide you as you move through the search process and learn more about what types of colleges you like and don't like. And counselors are fast! They can provide you with excellent information immediately during a Q & A session -- information that may take you hours to find on a website or in a guidebook. Of course, how available a counselor is often depends on how many students are in his or her caseload. It may be up to you to take the initiative to set an appointment, rather than waiting for your counselor to set the appointment for you. That said, if you are in a district with counselors that are spread very thin, and if you have the financial resources to do so, use a Unigo counselor! The fee that you pay to chat with a Unigo counselor is *significantly* lower than you would pay to hire a private college counselor, which may run into the thousands -- if not the tens of thousands -- of dollars. Regardless of your choice--using your guidance or college counselor or chatting with a Unigo counselor, the best means of starting your college search is to speak with the people who have dedicated years of their lives to becoming professionals in this field. They are the best "guidebooks" of all.

Benjamin Caldarelli
Partner Princeton College Consulting, LLC

What is the best way to start researching colleges?

The very best way to begin the college selection process is to start even before high school. This means arranging family trips to some major education centers like Boston, New York, Chicago, or LA where the focus does not have to be exclusively on seeing colleges, but students can have the opportunity to see a variety of types of colleges. When a student reaches high school, he or she (and family) can begin an ongoing conversation with a counselor, either at school or privately, who can talk to them about their interests and values and expose themt to the best print and online resources.

Mark Gathercole
University Advisor Independent University Advising

What is the best way to start researching colleges?

Start by first looking inward and figuring out what you want in a college; what's important to you - what are the three or four essential qualities that a college must have in order to attract you? Then you know what you're shopping for, which makes it more likely that you'll find what you want. Then use the resources, both online and in print, to do your research. Use mostly impartial sources, along with university websites.

Zahir Robb
College Counselor The Right Fit College

What is the best way to start researching colleges?

There are any number of search engine's out there that can help with this process, namely the one offered through College Board. You start by entering some criteria that will be used to refine your search and slowly but surely you can start to whittle down your choices. Unfortunately, with roughly 4,000 colleges represented, the list can still be quite large when all is said and done. This is why I recommend working with a college advisor, as they can help point you in the right direction and use their personal experience to find you that right fit college.

Nancy Milne
Owner Milne Collegiate Consulting

What is the best way to start researching colleges?

How you research colleges depends on your personal preferences. If you love your computer, you can surf the web. If you value other's opinions, start asking anyone you respect for their thoughts on their alma maters. If you love holding a book in your hands, head to the library or bookstore and you'll find plenty to choose from. You may find it helps to focus on areas of academic interest and schools that specialize in that field. Size and location are also common points of distinction made early in the process. While all this research can be fascinating, it can also feel overwhelming; that's what college counselors are for. Don't hesitate to ask for help is sorting through the information; staying organized at this time is important and you can't ignore your high school studies.

Carita Del Valle
Founder Academic Decisions

What is the best way to start researching colleges?

Start by visiting campuses in your area of different sizes, curriculum and type (private verse public). Once you have done a few of these, you begin to identify things you liked and didn't like, majors or programs that really got you excited, and location issues that will now aid you in developing a more personal and precise college possibilities list.