As the College Board points out, there is no foolproof method for choosing the right college, but some important steps to take include gathering advice, making a wish list, getting information about schools and visiting college campuses. These steps can help prospective students decide what they're looking for and figure out which colleges fulfill their needs.
Gathering advice and information from others is a useful step in the search for the right college. Counselors, school principals, teachers, friends and family members can all be useful sources of advice. Talk to people who have been to college and find out what factors informed their decision. Talk to parents to hear their views on choosing a college and also to find out what financial concerns might exist.
Prospective students should also draw up their own wish list of ideal qualities for a college. No concern is too small, whether it's academics, extracurricular activities, location or campus culture. Even if certain concerns seem less important than others, articulating all of them helps determine which colleges truly match up.
Prospective students can gain a wealth of information by visiting college fairs. These fairs offer the opportunity to talk to numerous college representatives and collect a range of informational literature.
Exploring college websites online is also useful to learn more about specific schools. Finally, a campus visit can help students truly get a sense of a school and decide whether it feels right.