3 Easy Steps to Find A College of Your Dream

Selecting a college is not an easy matter. There is a lot of thought that goes into the entire process and for students fresh out of high school; it can be even more difficult than usual. There are hundreds of colleges you can choose from, thousands of programs, subjects, faculty, campus facilities and countless other pros and cons. So how do you simplify this highly elaborate process to find the college that would be just the right fit for you?

Here are 3 easy steps to find a college of your dream:

Step 1: Define Your Dream College

The first step in finding the ideal college for yourself is defining what you want. This will form the foundation of your college selection decision. With so many qualities and options out there, you really need to narrow down your requirements. Here are six things that might help you out with this section:


This is certainly the most important factor when deciding the college you want to go to. Look for the program you want and the breakdown of all the courses within that program. Consider the average SAT scores or GPA for that college and program. In addition to these, always look for potential internships and study abroad options that the college offers. Some colleges have international affiliations and may provide students with the opportunity to travel abroad for their studies and gain meaningful experience. Make this one of the foundational factors in your college decision process. Besides these, class size and faculty are two very important matters that you should consider, since they will have a direct impact on your eventual learning outcomes.


Your college campus is where you are going to spend a considerable amount of time for the duration of your degree – it will be a home away from home. Therefore, make sure you invest some time in listing down the things you absolutely want in terms of the campus environment, housing facilities, surrounding town, nearby shopping centers, entertainment options and so on. If you live in the same town, or are not planning to move into the college residence, then give some thought to the distance from your home as well, and the various commute options that will be available to you.

Facilities and Dorms:

For those of you planning to move on campus once college starts, this would perhaps be the most important concern. List down the things you would certainly need in a student housing facility. The laundry facility, food options, security, number of people per room, air-conditioning, heating facilities, warm water, etc. would all be very real concerns once you start living on campus.


College is not just about the academics. The entire lifestyle you develop while in college matters a lot in your overall learning. The kinds and number of activities available will add the element of fun in your college years. Think of fraternities/sororities, student councils and governments, languages spoken on campus, multicultural matters, athletics and sports facilities, music, religion, functions, societies, gatherings, excursion trips and so on. These are the things that will give you memories to last a lifetime.

Campus Culture:

You will be spending a lot of time on campus. Make sure you pick a place that offers a culture you would like to become a part of, along with people you are probable to develop a liking for. Think of qualities such as diversity, positive personality traits, sustainability of campus, smartness, acceptability and so on. You would want to ensure that you are surrounded by people who radiate positive energy and create a culture that you would genuinely want to be an active part of.


Just like academics, cost concerns play an integral role in the college decision-making process. Have a detailed look at the total cost of attendance, including tuition, residence and any other fees associated with things such as food, trips, laundry, labs, laptops and so on. In addition to this, also give some thought to the grants, scholarship options and loans that you can get to aid the finances of your college education.  

Step 2: Start Looking For Schools

As soon as you have made a comprehensive list of your requirements, you need to start looking for colleges that match your defined criteria. Here are a few pointers that might help you with this step:

Use Smart Research Techniques:

There are several ways you can do the right kind of research for the perfect college. You can look into the numerous college search programs that have all the required information listed down for you. College Board, College View, the College Navigator by the National Center for Education and My College Options are the kind of search tools you can use to your advantage. Another way to look for top colleges in the US is Forbes and US News rankings. These rankings are based on several key factors and usually give you the best options according to city, state, enrollment, program, cost etc. In addition to these, you can use simple searches online to find out all the details for yourself.

Create a Quick Chart:

Mapping down all your gathered data on a chart designed for the purpose will help you keep track of your research. Put in a few columns that list the name of the school, the cost, and a few pros and cons. By putting it all down on an easy-to-follow chart, you will have all the required information right in front of you.

Step 3: Narrow Down Your List

Once you have a list of all the colleges, you need to start narrowing them down. To make the final choice, the following pointers might be of some use:

Visit Potential Colleges:

One of the best ways to actually know about a college is to visit the premises, talking to the students and faculty there and analyzing the campus facilities yourself. This way you can get a rough idea about the culture and environment of the college.

Visit Websites:

Instead of visiting all the colleges on your list, you might want to first take a detailed tour of their website to gather all the information that you can from there. Read, watch videos, have live chat sessions etc to determine if the particular college is for you. Cross off the colleges that are a definite ‘no’ after this website research. Then visit only those colleges that still remain on the list.

After you have visited the relevant colleges and narrowed down your list as much as you could, make a ‘top 3’ list out of the remaining. Pick the one that has the most pros. You might want to bring in your family or friends for discussion at this final step!


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