Research College Options
A great college list starts with YOU! Ask yourself these questions:
- How do you learn best?
- What are your reasons for going to college?
- How independent are you? How far away from home do you want to go?
- What are your academic work habits like? What level of challenge do you want?
- What are your favorite activities?
- What subjects do you like to study?
Start with visits to local colleges
Sophomores and juniors should take advantage of school breaks to visit local colleges. Before you get serious about making a college list, first go and do a few tours right here in the Twin Cities. It really isn’t important if these are colleges you think you’ll want to attend. The idea is to learn about different kinds of colleges and what they look like.
Schedule a visit online – almost all colleges have an online calendar (google “name of college” and “visit”) so you can easily schedule a visit.
Go with your parents or with friends!
Visit a big school (University of Minnesota?) and a few small colleges that are located in or around the Twin Cities.
Attend a College Fair (http://www.mn-acac.org/students) to talk with representatives from colleges that may interest you. The schedule is updated on the MACAC website each year.
The National College Fair takes place in October at the Convention Center in Minneapolis and includes as many as 400 colleges from around the country.
Minnesota Education Fairs take place in the fall and spring at local high schools and community colleges. These events are open to the public and usually include more than 100 colleges.
After a few college visits, ask yourself these questions:
- Do you like the resources of a large school or the close-knit community of a smaller school?
- Do you want to go to college in a city or small town?
- Which activities on the campuses sound most interesting?
- What academic programs sound really exciting?
- Are you interested in study abroad?
- What kind of athletic program do you want the school to have?
Consider graduation rates!
In the search tools below, look for information about graduation rates. The best colleges have 6 year (the standard measurement for the Dept of Ed) graduation rates of 70% or higher.
College Search Tools
Use these tools and what you know about yourself and your preferences to build a list of schools to explore further:
College Navigator from the Department of Education is the most reliable resource. It has extensive information about cost and financial aid, admissions, programs offered, graduation rates, and athletics.
College Scorecard from the Department of Ed is easy to navigate with great information.
College Board’s Big Future has filters and great graphics. The tool "College Search Step-by-Step" is great for students who don’t know how to begin the search process. It asks questions about what you are looking for in a school and give you a "snapshot" of your preferences to help you decide where to apply.
Affordable Colleges Online provides community resources and tools related to higher education with an eye on affordability and accreditation.
College Search Tools with Student Reviews
*Beware of disgruntled students – use these sites along with other tools.
Rankings are often where families start when looking for college options. This can lead students to create a list of schools that isn’t based on their personal needs and interests. Here are some other great resources for colleges that move beyond the rankings:
Colleges that Change Lives 44 colleges recognized for making a difference.
Beyond College Rankings has value added information about colleges.
College Lists Wiki is a treasure trove of specialized college lists for students with particular interests and needs.
College Visit Resources
Once you have a preliminary list, it’s a great idea to visit as many of the colleges on your list as you can. Some great resources for college visits:
College Representative Visits to Eagle Ridge Academy
12:45-1:15 p.m. | Rm. 1620
- March 13 - Army ROTC
- March 14 - U of Minnesota - Morris
- March 28 - University of Jamestown (North Dakota)
- April 24 - Hillsdale College