How to Start Your College Search

Find the right college for you.

Talk to Your Family

Start a conversation. 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. If there are money concerns, it's best to know now.

Make a Wish List

What do you want in a college? Make a list of majors, locations, and extracurricular activities you’d be interested in. This exercise will help you better understand what you're looking for when reviewing colleges.

Get Advice

Talk to a school counselor 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 their college.

Read Your Mail

Your mailbox and inbox might already be filled with college brochures and emails. If so, browse through them. You may find colleges you haven't considered. If you aren't getting college mail yet, visit college websites. 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 the College Fair Checklist.

Explore Online

A visit to a college's website can give you an idea of student life and classes. You can take virtual campus tours, check out classes, and contact admissions officers and current students with questions.

Visit a Campus

Get a taste of college life by visiting a nearby college. Explore the campus, talk to college students, and get a better sense of what you do and don't want in a college. You'll also start to see how college is different from high school. Learn more about campus visits.

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.


How do I find the right college for me?

Finding the right college can be daunting, but with careful planning, it can be a simplified process. Once you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve, start researching academic programs, campus facilities, and student satisfaction. You may also want to attend information sessions and take campus tours to give you a better idea of what each college has to offer. Check out our guide on choosing the right college for you.

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What’s the website that tells you about colleges?

Several websites provide comprehensive information about colleges and universities. One great option is BigFuture. This website offers a wide range of resources for college planning, including a college search tool, information on admissions requirements, and financial aid resources. Take a look at our College Search feature. Search by location, major, type, or campus life.

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How do I let a college know my decision?

Notifying colleges of your decision to attend is the last step in the process of selecting a college. You need to provide the college with the necessary paperwork, including all required forms, as well as deposits for tuition, housing, and meal plans. You should also tell any other colleges you were accepted to that you’ll not be attending, so that they can give that spot to another worthy applicant. Check out our steps to take after choosing a college.

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What things should I consider when choosing a college?

Evaluate the quality of the academic programs and majors offered by the college to see if they align with your interests and career goals. Consider the campus culture, location, and environment to see if they align with your values and social preferences. Evaluate the cost of tuition, fees, living expenses, and financial aid options. Our resources can help you find your dream college.

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How do I choose the right college for me?

Assessing your academic strengths and personal values is important when selecting a college. Take time to research schools. Consider visiting campuses or taking virtual tours. Consider financial factors. Seek advice from counselors, teachers, and mentors. Don’t hesitate to ask current students or alums for their insights. Attending a college fair is another good way to get information about different colleges. Check out our College Fair Checklist to make the most of these events.

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