Create a College List

Sorting Through the Options

There are nearly 4,000 degree-granting colleges and universities in the United States.

Find out how to sort through all these options and select the few institutions you want to learn more about by considering these features: 

  • Major
  • Location
  • Size
  • Cost to attend
  • Extracurriculars
  • Requirements

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#IApplied: Building Your College List

The type of colleges you consider will depend on your goals and expectations.

Major - What subject would you enjoy studying? Which colleges offer that subject as a major? If undecided, which colleges have support systems that help you explore interests and majors? 

Location - Do you want to attend a school close to home? Do you want to live in a big city, or is a small town more appealing? Is there a certain part of the country where you’d like to live? 

Size - Do you prefer a more intimate atmosphere or more anonymity? Would you enjoy larger facilities, more programs, and a greater range of extracurricular activities? Or more discussion-based classes, a greater chance of participation, and less distance between you and professors?

Cost to Attend - What is the cost posted on the college or university website or materials? What scholarships and financial aid options does the college provide? Will you receive any help paying for college? 

Extracurriculars - Is there a specific activity you’d like to explore in college? Which colleges offer clubs or organizations in that area?

Requirements - When comparing yourself to your graduating high school class, how do you rank? Do you think you’d be able to get into a selective college?

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Once you’ve considered these qualities, which is your highest priority? Use it to start finding and researching colleges.

For example: If staying close to home is the most important thing to you, search for colleges near you and start compiling your list. If you find that more than 20 colleges align with your highest priority, move to the second-most-important priority. 

For example: If you find multiple colleges with great programs for your major, and you know being at a large school is the second-highest priority, you can eliminate smaller colleges from your list.

Keep going down your priority list until you have around 8-15 colleges you really want to spend time researching.