There is a lot to consider when conducting your college research. How does someone narrow down one college to attend? Make sure you have your application in line with transcripts, letters of recommendation, and essays. Look at the qualities of each college you are considering and see if they align with everything that you want to achieve during your college years. In this article, we break down a guide to researching colleges to help you determine which college is right for you.  

What to Look for When Researching Colleges?

You may be asking yourself “What is College research?”. Well, it is something that is not only beneficial to you but colleges expect it from you as well. How will you know what college you want to go to without researching what they offer beforehand? Understand what each college that interests you offers and how that can benefit you and your goals. 

The reason colleges are expecting you to do this research is that it’ll help you understand what that particular college values. You will be able to confidently complete admission essays with the knowledge of what your desired college values are. 

Another thing to look at when you are researching colleges in the admissions process, what the campus life is like, and what extracurricular activities they offer are. Follow this guide to conduct a proper college search

How to Research Colleges and Universities: 6-Step Guide to Researching Schools

The best way to research different colleges is to know what you’re looking for in higher education. What are your goals for the next 4 years? During your research, it is important to take notes on everything that pertains to you. Keep in mind the program you are looking to enter, how hard the classes can be, what you are able to afford, and what extracurricular activities they have available for you.

Program Selection

This is one of the most important topics to cover while you are researching colleges. Now, right out of high school you may not know what career or field you want to study, but it is important to have a direction. What if there is a dream college you want to go to, but they don’t offer the field that you want to get into? You’ll have to find a college that offers the program you are interested in. 

When looking into the different programs that colleges provide, you should also consider the workload they require to achieve that education. All requirements vary, so choose what you will be able to handle.

researching college

Academic Rigor

Every college has a different expectation from its students. Looking at the school’s academic rigor will help you decide if you want to spend the money to be in a certain program. Based on how challenging the school is academically is how you will decide if it is the one for you. You can experience an easier transition from high school to college and choose a two-year community college, or you can choose a more competitive approach and apply to an ivy league that is generally known for its rigorous courses.

Student Support System

Whether you need a quiet place to study or a session with someone to talk about your mental health, most colleges will be there for you. There are a variety of systems put in place to help a student succeed at any campus. It is the student’s responsibility to research and utilize those opportunities offered to them. There are even programs that students can enter to help with networking while in college and can set up an early career path before they graduate. Internships are one of the most common things that a student can do while studying for higher education.

The Campus Life

Along with finding the right program for you, you need to make sure the campus life will also be beneficial for your mental health. There are always colleges participating in college fairs so you can get a better grasp of the dynamic. Not only that, but you should make it a point to make a campus visit out of your top 3 colleges. 

Will you be living on campus in the dorms or commuting to your desired college every day? These are more of the questions that you need to keep in mind when picking the best college for you.


Regardless of your financial standing, college can get expensive. Not only are you looking for the best program for your intended career, but you also have to ensure that it is in your price range. We suggest contacting the college admissions for your desired college to get all the right information. 

We also recommend looking into alternative financial aid when applying to colleges. During the enrollment process, you’ll be able to ask for assisted aid from the college. Along with signing up for financial aid, you can apply for scholarships and grants that are applicable to you. This is something that can also cover the cost of books and college tuition.

Important Information for You

Ideally, you want to find the best college for you. Keep in mind what college will help you connect in a cultural and academic way. No two colleges are the same, so you need to find one that suits you. It is okay to be deterred from a college because of cultural indifference. Even if they have the right program for you. Find a college that you will be comfortable with both culturally and academically.

What Should You Look for in a College? 3 Factors to Take Into Consideration

What do you want out of going to college? That is one of the biggest questions you have to ask yourself. Based on your answer, is how you will find the right college for you. How is your GPA looking? Create a list of colleges and make sure that you have all of the right qualifications to attend the school. College websites are the best place to find all the right information that you are looking for. Let’s take a closer look at some factors to watch out for while you are doing college research.  

Application Process

Every college is different, but something that you need to watch out for is college application deadlines. The application process can take a bit of time so you need to plan out how long it will take you to submit it. The admissions requirements generally involve your transcripts, assessments, essay (if applicable, what the topic is), and whether or not you need to include letters of recommendation. All of this information is something to consider when you are looking at the application process for each desired college. 


You should also consider the college’s accreditation when looking at the right school for you. There are certain colleges that haven’t been accredited yet. Most colleges are either in the process of being accredited or didn’t pass and are working on making changes to gain accreditation. The reason that you want to get into an accredited school is so that you can earn a real degree. Browse the different programs that the college offers to make sure that yours is properly accredited.

Admission Rate

The admission is another thing to consider. The rate gives you an idea of the percentage of students that apply verse those who get into the college. A college that has a lower acceptance rate is harder to get into, so the higher the acceptance rate the more potential there is that you will be accepted too. There are a ton of factors that colleges consider when deciding which students to accept. Grades, SAT, ACT, and a diverse student body that come from various backgrounds, volunteer experience, and abilities are just some of the factors considered.

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College Research Template

Find the perfect college for you with our college research template. They are organized by importance for when you are researching colleges.

Key Takeaways

Finding the best college for you is important. It will define how you grow through the next stage of your life. You are going to be continuing with higher education, learning to live on your own, and participating in extracurricular activities, make them count! Use this guide to help you navigate finding the perfect college for you.