Dear QB: There are so many colleges out there. How do I find the “one” for me?

DearQBWith thousands of four-year colleges in the United States, it can be intimidating to know how to find the college that is the right fit for you academically, financially, and socially. The good news is that QuestBridge’s college partners are all great options, and you can certainly find more than one that is a good fit. The key is to set goals, do your research, and stay organized. Let’s dive deeper into these three things…

Set Goals

Before you start searching for schools, take time to think about what you want to accomplish in college. You don’t have to know everything now, but thinking ahead will help when you start making college decisions. Fill out this College Goals Questionnaire to clarify a few important questions that can impact your college search, including:

  • Why do you want to go to college?
  • How important to you are things like size, location, diversity, activities, etc.?
  • Is a liberal arts school or research university a better fit for you?

Do Your Research

College Partners MapOnce you have set your goals, you can then start researching. Save time by tracking your research in this College Research Template (click ‘Download’ at top right), or in your own Google Spreadsheet. We encourage you to keep an open mind in your research — you might be surprised by the colleges that capture your attention!

There are many places for you to research colleges, including:

  • The QuestBridge website
  • Each college’s website
  • Each college’s social media channels and/or blog
  • Virtual tours
  • Campus visits (Check to see if schools on your list offer fly-in programs)
  • College fairs and/or connecting with a regional college representative

Stay Organized from Beginning to End

While you’re doing your research, it’ll save you time and energy if you stay organized. Keep a spreadsheet of all the colleges you are interested in. Make sure to include columns such as:

  • Basic characteristics: Size, location, school type, etc.
  • Statistics: Acceptance rate, average test scores, etc.
  • Application requirements: Application deadline(s), required tests, etc.

You want to be sure to keep track of information that will later help you narrow down your list of schools to apply to. Also, be sure to identify if it is a reach, target, or safety school for you, based on your own academic performance.

Later, you can use all of this information to make sure you are applying to a range of schools that are a good fit for you.