College Search App
Follow these instructions to create your college list in just 10 minutes!
Public University Search
1. Select your home State (the state where you & your family live).
2. Select only Public universities.
3. Then filter by Selectivity, Setting, & University Size to get a shortlist of colleges to compare.
4. Scroll to the far right of the table to sort the universities on your shortlist by your major of interest.
5. Select 3 schools to apply to-- 1 reach, 1 safety, and 1 target college.
6. Now that you have your 3 or so Public, In-State Universities, clear your search and move on to your private school search.
Private University Search
1. Select the Region(s) where you want to study.
2. Select only Private universities.
3. Filter first by Selectivity and Affordability to create a short-list of colleges.
4. If there are still too many options, you can filter by Setting, University Size, Diversity, and use other filters.
5. Once you have a manageable shortlist of colleges, scroll to the far right of the table to sort the universities by your major of interest.
6. Select 1-4 reach, 1-4 target, and 1-2 safety private colleges for your college list!
Step 7. That's it! Run your list by your school counselor or adult that you trust, but you now have your college list and you can start working on your applications!
Applying to college doesn't have to be complicated. Just follow these 5 rules to guarantee that you will have affordable college options available!
1. Search for public and private colleges separately. Make sure that you apply to at least 2-3 in-state public colleges.
2. To be extra safe, try to apply to at least 1 safety public or private college (a safety college is one that you know you will be accepted to), that is within commuting distance. This is especially important if you live in a state where public universities are not so affordable.
3. Once you settle on 2-3 in-state public universities, then you can explore private and out-of-state options. Private colleges aren't always more expensive, you just need to understand your family finances and use the Affordability filter to target more affordable private universities when needed. Private universities that you can commute to will also usually end up being affordable due to not having to pay boarding costs.
4. Finally, visit as many colleges as you can! Go with your family, your school, or your friends, even if you aren't interested in that college. Visiting will help you understand where you feel most comfortable-- a big or small college, what setting, and how far from home you want to go.
5. For students with special circumstances, we are working on specific resources for you:
Mismatched EFC and Ability to Pay
Living in Remote Area & Unaffordable state with no 4-year colleges in commuting distance
Independent student or student not living with parents
In the end your college list should look something like the cart below. Students should apply to a minimum of 2-3 in-state public universities, but for best results the college list should be 5-12 colleges. Students applying to more selective universities should apply on the higher end, while those looking to stay in-state will probably be okay with 3-5 applications. Lower-income students also need to be much more careful about filling in each of these boxes and making sure they have affordable college options. We recommend applying to a few private colleges as well.
Additional College List Building Resources
Complete College Search (for counselors)
A tool for counselors to filter college by location, selectivity, affordability, institutional characteristics, and more!