100 Terrific Tools and Resources to Find Your Perfect College

By Megan Jones

Going to college is both an exciting time and an important time that affects your future. Making the decision about which school to attend can be an overwhelming one and may leave you feeling confused about which direction to take. The following resources and tools are a great place to start regardless of which state you are interested in for going to school – whether that be in Rhode Island or North Dakota. From finding what colleges are available to taking quizzes to see how well you match to various schools to learning about different types of schools to school rankings, the following resources will certainly answer your questions and get you on the path to choosing the perfect college for you.

Find a College

If you aren’t sure how you should select a college, these articles offer plenty of tips and suggestions for how you might approach this monumental decision.

  1. Top 10 Tips on How to Select a College. This article offers a great starting place for those considering college and wondering what they should consider when making a choice.
  2. How to Choose a College. While this article relies mostly on why you should trust their rankings over other rankings, Forbes does offer an important look at the methods used in various ranking systems and offers one of their own.
  3. How to Select a College. Follow the advice in this article to ensure you think through the college selection process in a clear manner with suggestions such as talking with teachers and counselors and making a checklist of important criteria.
  4. Select a College Step by Step. MSN Money offers this simple guide with four important steps to selecting a school and links for additional information.
  5. How to Choose a College That’s Right For You. This story from NPR offers suggestions such as examine your reasons for going and not relying on “name-brand” colleges.
  6. What should i do during a campus visit?. From sitting in on a class to eating in the cafeteria, this article offers great suggestions to make the most out of your campus visit.
  7. Top Ten Rules for Selecting a College or University. These “rules” offer sound advice for selecting a school and include visiting your top two or three and not ruling schools out due to cost.
  8. 12 Ways Not to Choose a College. Don’t make these mistakes when choosing a college, even if your best friend is going there.
  9. Colleges–How to Choose the Best College. Consider these six suggestions when looking at schools you might attend.
  10. Choose a College. Read through these links provided by University of California to help you learn how to select the perfect school for you.
  11. More Tips for Choosing–For Students Only. Relax and search your soul top this list, but other suggestions are a bit more tangible, such as applying to schools you know you can get into as well as schools that may not be such a given.
  12. Choosing a College that’s Right for You. The nine steps outlined here not only offer advice on selecting a college (and getting a campus vs. online degree), but also points you in the right direction for what comes next.
  13. The Right Way to Pick a College. With suggestions like “look past the obvious” and “live like a student,” this article offers a fresh perspective on weighing options.

College Search Tools

These search tools offer a great way to match colleges to your interests, abilities, or even just your geographic location (such as colleges in South Dakota).

  1. College Board Find a College. Search by college name, major, location, cost, or other criteria to find colleges that may be worth investigating further.
  2. Peterson’s College Search. Start this search for the perfect college by entering what is more important to you–academics, student body, the basics, campus life, or getting in.
  3. College Navigator. This search sponsored by the National Center for Educational Statistics allows you to search by geographic area, level of degree, or type of institution.
  4. CollegeDegree.com. If you are searching for online degrees, you can find your match from over 1,000 schools here.
  5. College and University Search. Select a subject of interest, then narrow your choices to a program or search by zip code to find nearby colleges.
  6. College Admissions. Search by 2-year, 4-year, or graduate school or browse through the featured colleges.
  7. Careers and Colleges. Use this search tool to narrow your focus from over 4000 schools and also get help focusing on a career.
  8. CollegeView. Not only can you search by college location or area of study, but you can narrow the choices by selecting additional criteria such as tuition range or minority composition.
  9. AnyCollege.com. Search with the basic criteria or look for schools with specific religious affiliation or sports programs.
  10. Campus Explorer. Find 2 and 4 year schools or search for career schools with this search tool.
  11. CollegeBound. Search for colleges and universities or search for specialty schools such as spa and beauty schools, technical schools, computer schools, Christian schools, or boarding schools.

Quizzes and Other Tools

These quizzes and tools will help match you to schools, provide you with insight as to what you should do after high school, find out if you are right for online education, and help you determine what career path you should pursue.

  1. SparkCollege Match. Take this quiz to learn what your best college match may be.
  2. College MatchMaker. Answer simple questions on types of schools, location, major, and more to discover what schools are right for you.
  3. My Majors. This short quiz and receive five college majors that match your interests and abilities.
  4. Counselor-O-Matic. Answer questions and provide information for things like test scores to receive colleges that may be a great match for you.
  5. What kind of college is right for you?. Take this quiz that asks simple questions that help discover what type of student you are and a good school match for you.
  6. What Should You Have Done After High School?. Take this quiz to see if you should buckle down for school or travel the world after high school.
  7. eLearners Advisor. This tool will help you determine if an online education is the right choice for you.
  8. Work Interest Quiz. Learn what type of work you should plan to do with this quiz that looks at 60 items you may or may not enjoy doing.
  9. Career Test. Based on color choices, get a free report of the top 40 careers you may be best suited for.
  10. Personality Quiz. This personality quiz is based on one use by Human Resources departments to help determine what type of personality prospective employees have.

Community Colleges and Technical Schools

If you are considering community colleges or technical schools, these resources and tools will help you find what is available and help you make some important decisions.

  1. American Association of Community Colleges. Find community colleges by geographic location with this tool.
  2. Digital Community Colleges Survey. This survey looks at community colleges year-by-year to see which ones have progressed the most with integration of information technology as a means of delivering services to their students and faculty.
  3. Community College Top 100 Producers. Find out which community colleges produced the most associate degrees and certificates with these rankings.
  4. Career and Technical School Directories. If you are looking for a career, technical, or trade school, these directories will help you discover what is available.
  5. Technical Schools Guide. Find technical schools and technical colleges by geographic location with this tool.
  6. Vo-Tech Education. Learn about studying for a skill-based occupation with this article.
  7. Apprenticeships. Consider this alternative to traditional schools and learn how to prepare for a profession through apprenticeship.
  8. Yahoo! Career and Vocational School Directories. This directory provides links to many different resources for finding a career or vocational school.

Making Decisions

The following resources will help you make decisions like whether you should choose a private or a public school, join the military or go to college, discover what type of career you may want to pursue, and provide information on potential cities where you may want to go to college.

  1. Quick Facts about Private Colleges and Universities. If you want to know how private schools differ from public ones, this fact sheet will help you learn.
  2. What should you do after high school?. Think about options such as college, trade school, and the military and explore whether you are better suited to one over another.
  3. 10 Steps to Joining the Military. If you are considering joining the military, these ten steps offer an important insight on how to go about it and what to expect.
  4. National Boards for Professional Teaching Standards Available Certificates. If teaching is one of your considerations, then take a look at the certification programs available for teachers.
  5. Making the Decision to Study Medicine. Potential medical students should read this article from the AAMC to help determine if they are cut out for the medical profession.
  6. Choosing a Career Path. Look to your future before starting college to help determine the best education to get for your chosen career path.
  7. Education + Training. Browse through these links to find information about planning for your future, finding schools, getting financial aid, and more.
  8. Consider Relocating. If you are considering a school in a different city and need to find housing or a job there, this guide provides plenty of information to help you make an informed decision about where to go.

Help Choosing a Major

Some students know what they would like to study in college well before they approach their college years, but if you are like the majority of people, you probably don’t have your mind made up yet. These tools and articles will help you discover what you may want to study, which in turn, may help you select a college.

  1. Choosing a Major. This article offers great advice to keep in mind during the initial stages of thinking about a major.
  2. How to Pick a Major. Read about other students’ decisions and think about what you may want to study in school.
  3. Five Steps to Choosing a College Major. These five steps include evaluating interests and considering your values. There are five extra bonus tips also.
  4. Top 10 College Majors. Reminding you that popular majors don’t always mean top salary, this listing lets you know what others are studying.
  5. The 10 Most Worthless College Majors. While this article may not be the most accurate, it certainly gives you something to think about when considering majors.
  6. What Can I do With a Major in…?. This article provides links to several disciplines and offers lists of specific jobs available in each.
  7. Choosing a College Major: How to Chart Your Ideal Path. After “don’t panic,” the suggestions become even more practical with sound advice ranging from self-assessment tests to career exploration.
  8. Major Search. This tool provides the opportunity to take an in depth look at what what each major may study and how it could help you begin a career.
  9. Majors Offered. This comprehensive listing of potential majors also includes links to schools where you can study that major.
  10. Does Your Minor Matter?. While considering your major, take some time to think about your minor as well. This article tells why it may be important.

Advice for Getting Accepted

Once you have narrowed your choices to the schools where you want to apply, follow this advice to ensure you get accepted to the school you really want to attend.

  1. How I Got Into College: 6 Stories. This article from the Wall Street Journal offers advice from six students who were recently accepted into college and their success (and failure) stories.
  2. How Not to Get into College. Be sure you don’t commit these same mistakes when submitting applications to your schools of choice.
  3. Choosing Your College Admission Essay Topic. Learn how to select a topic that is unique and tells something of importance about you as a person.
  4. Match, Reach and Safety Schools. Find out the three types of schools to which you should apply and why this is important to ensure you get into a school of your choosing.
  5. How Many Colleges to Apply to. This blog post offers suggestions on finding the right amount of colleges you should apply to during your process.
  6. How College Admission Works. Read this article for an example of how college admission works at Duke University and how it may work for other schools as well.
  7. College Admissions: How to Get Accepted Into The Top College of Your Choice. This resource offers links to several articles with advice on getting into college.

Financial Aid

When looking at schools, you will definitely need to consider the financial aspect involved. These resources can help you plan ways to finance your education.

  1. Sallie Mae’s Education Investment Planner. Estimate the cost of an education at any particular school and compare against other schools with this tool.
  2. FastWeb. Find scholarship money that may be available to help finance your college education.
  3. Scholarships.com. This free search helps you find scholarships and grants for school.
  4. Nelnet. Not only can you learn about financing your education here, they also offer help with college searches and matching.
  5. FinAid Calculators. Use these calculators to discover costs, savings, loan amounts, family contributions, and more.
  6. FAFSA. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is the first place you should go when applying for any type of student aid. Fill out the form online for fastest results.
  7. Financial Aid Tools and Links. From a budget calculator to a college planning guide, these resources and tools will help you plan paying for school.
  8. Financial Aid Tools. Parents and prospective students alike will find helpful tools here to map out financial aid for school.
  9. Where the College Scholarships Are. Learn how to develop a smart scholarship strategy to improve your chances of getting this money for school.
  10. Can you Spot a College Scholarship Scam?. Don’t fall prey to those underhanded attempts to part you from your money. Learn how to recognize legitimate scholarship opportunities.

General Lists and Rankings

These lists and rankings will offer suggestions for best school for your money, best liberal arts school, best school based on geography, and more.

  1. U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges 2009. This well-respected college ranking lists colleges by discipline, geographic location, and more.
  2. The Princeton Review. The Princeton Review offers rankings of schools by such categories as academics, politics, demographics, extracurricular, parties, and more.
  3. Kiplinger’s 100 Best Values in Public Colleges. This popular ranking lets you look for the best value for both in-state and out-of-state.
  4. OEDb’s Online College Rankings 2009. This ranking takes a serious look at accredited, degree-granting online schools and provides the top 44 in the nation.
  5. U.S. Universities. The University of Texas offers a listing by state of all the U.S. universities across the country with links to their websites.
  6. College Prowler College Rankings. These rankings are based solely on student input and categorized by such criteria as athletics, campus dining, girls, guys, nightlife, parking, and weather.
  7. The Consus Group. This site offers rankings on business schools, medical schools, law schools, and various rankings for traditional universities, including their own composite that looks at results from several different ranking systems.
  8. A New Ranking of American Colleges on Laissez-Faire Principles, 1999-2000. While the data here was updated in 2002, it is still a bit dated, but does offer a worthwhile look at various ways college rankings are assembled and provides an alternate ranking based on “quality with selectivity.”
  9. And the Best Executive M.B.A. Programs In 2008 Are…. If your goal is to get into a top-ranking graduate program for business, this article tells you which schools to target and why they are important.
  10. 2007 College Guide. The most recent rankings available online from Washington Magazine, these rankings include specific listings for community colleges, national universities, and liberal arts colleges.
  11. Council for Higher Education Accreditation. If you want to find an accredited institution, this organization keeps a database of accredited schools throughout the nation and the world.
  12. American Association of State Colleges and Universities. Find out about 430 state colleges and universities at this site with schools in the US, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

Specialized Rankings

Whether you are looking for a school that is specifically set up to accommodate those with disabilities, are seeking a school that understands the culture of American Indians, or are looking for a campus that puts emphasis on teaching ethical behavior, these rankings are all based on very specialized criteria.

  1. 25 Top Colleges for Hispanics. Hispanic Magazine publishes their ranking each year and includes schools from Princeton to Texas A&M.
  2. Best Colleges for Asian Americans. For Asian Americans interested in the best college environment, find out the top 15 colleges overall, the top 15 liberal arts colleges, and learn about the selection criteria for these lists.
  3. Top 50 Colleges for African Americans. Not only can you discover the top 50 schools, but click on the links for each and get details about each school to help understand why these schools rank highly.
  4. College and Character. Find over 400 schools that strive to “inspire students to lead ethical and civil-minded lives.”
  5. Annual College Guide for American Indians. While the full version is only available in print, this site offers a sampling of rankings and information about schools that are specifically geared to American Indian students.
  6. Disability Friendly Colleges. While this ranking is a bit dated, it does provide a great place to start looking for colleges if you want a school that is designed with an eye to accommodating the needs of those with disabilities.
  7. Extra Credit: Campus Activism 2006. While these results are a few years old, Mother Jones highlights campuses that tend to have a high level of student political and social activism.
  8. Announcing the 2007-2008 Top Ten Conservative Colleges. For students interested in pursuing an education where conservative ideas and conservative authors are the focus, then this listing is a must-read.
  9. 2007 Top American Research Universities Report. If you want to attend a major research university, then this is the listing you need to check out.
  10. Top 20 Wired Colleges. Two years can make a big difference when it comes to technology, but these were the 20 best schools in the nation providing the latest in technology at the end of 2006, according to PC Magazine.
  11. WomensColleges.org. If you are interested in schools for women only, these listings are available by state or by school name.