Researching colleges is a time-consuming, but worthwhile process. Talk to search online, talk to counselors, flip through college profile books, and so on. The more you learn about an assortment of colleges, the more discerning your selection can be, and the more likely you will be to succeed.

Online Search

Type “college search” into any search engine, and you’ll find endless resources to help you identify candidate schools. There are, of course, thousands of individual college websites. You should surf schools’ websites once you’ve really begun to narrow down the field to 10-15 colleges – otherwise, you’ll be at it forever. There are also sites that briefly profile a number of colleges – the online version of the profile books.

A number of excellent websites ask you a bunch of questions and then produce a list of schools that meet your criteria. Utilize any tool like this that helps you narrow down the field. At times, the volume of information online is overwhelming, which is a strong argument for starting with the college search tool that’s offered by CaptainU, where the information is packaged in small, easy-to-access pieces.

College Counselors

A handful of high schools employ full-time college counselors. Other schools rely on general guidance counselors to provide this service. Find out what sort of college guidance is available at your school. Schedule time to meet with the counselor, and be prepared for your meeting with an idea of what you’re looking for in a college. If the guidance counselor provides useful advice, continue to consult with them as you develop your list of colleges. If your meeting with the college counselor doesn’t work out so well, don’t despair. Even if the college guidance at your school is excellent, it is unlikely that an accurate list of candidate schools will simply fall into your lap. Fortunately, there are vast resources out there for you to utilize.

College Profile Books

There are a number of major companies that make it their business to accurately portray colleges for college-bound high school students. Books abound that profile the “Best 350 Colleges,” “100 Great Schools at Great Prices,” and so on. In these books, one or two pages are devoted to each college. The profiles, though brief, are enough to give you the gist of a school. Disregard those that sound terrible and dog-ear those that catch your eye. College profile books are a fantastic place to start your search. If you spend a few hours flipping through one of these books, you’ll undoubtedly find a number of schools that interest you. And just like that, you’ll have made progress.

There are a few profile books out there that are based on college athletics alone. These books miss the fundamental point: College is most importantly an academic and social experience. You should select a college for its overall merits, not just because a book says that the school has a good sports team.


Once you’ve found 10 colleges that are right for you, look online to collect the contact information for each school and its team. For each college, save the contact information in the folder you have already created.

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