Find a College

Finding a college starts with learning how to be a smart education consumer. Choosing a college is like any big investment – a car, a computer – keep the end in mind when you are learning about options. What do you need it for? Will it accomplish your goals?

If you learn how to choose a college as a smart consumer, you will be less likely to regret your decision later. These tips will help:

  1. Learn about Yourself with these activities. Also read about Holland's Theory of Career Choice and how it helps you choose careers and college majors more likely to lead to your success in school and at work.

  2. Identify careers and college majors that interest you, before narrowing down college choices. Even if you think you have no idea what to study, you may surprise yourself with some early preferences. If you know what you want to study, then look for colleges that offer those programs.

  3. Take advantage of professionals who can help: school counselors, admissions counselors, parents, and adults with community organizations and nonprofits. People want to help you.

  4. Consider the "new" important factors* in choosing a college. A college should help you be successful, so you need to find out the quality of students' experiences after they enroll. You should find out the school's:
    1. Retention and graduation rates for your demographic, not just for everyone. Include gender and minority group.
    2. Employment rates for specific degrees. If you are considering an economics major, find out the post-graduation employment rate for that major.
    3. The level of career services and academic advising provided. If there isn't much, that doesn't bode well for your post-graduate success.
    4. Average debt of students upon graduation.
    5. Retention efforts. What is the school doing to keep students in school and graduating on time? If there isn't much or they can't tell you what they are, that signals a lack of student support.
  5. Look beyond the marketing message, just as you would do with any significant purchase. If they say they care about students and employability after graduation, do their services, employment rates, and graduation rates reflect that message?
  6. Make a high quality decision using our science based, four step process. It will help give structure to a long but rewarding project. You can download a free "Decision Balance Sheet" to fill out.

* From "Beyond the Traditional Factors: Learn how you can help your students construct a better list of potential colleges," American School Counselor, Nov./Dec. 2012, by Don Fraser, Jr., director of education and training for the National Association for College Admission Counseling.

For more information see:

Choosing a College Major Based on Your Personality: What does the research say? (PDF)

Student and Parent Resources at the National Association for College Admission Counseling, including Students' Right and Responsibilities in the College Admission Process (PDF)

Parents and Public Resources at the American School Counselor Association

The websites below are affiliated with The Career Key and we recommend them highly for help find a college.

National or Regional Sites

United States

  • Naviance delivers K-12 solutions that inspire post-secondary success for students. Naviance Succeed empowers students and educators to create multi-year success plans, increase academic expectations, and transform data into action.
  • is the national portal for all of the "Xap-powered" state "mentor" websites. It gives you information on selecting and applying to college, getting financial aid, and planning a career.
  • Peterson's vision is “To guide every student toward the realization of their education and career dreams”, by providing in-depth information about colleges and universities, career schools, graduate programs, distance learning, private secondary schools, financial aid, test preparation, and career exploration.

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