Selecting a College

In the Career Planning unit, you were given the opportunity to figure out your career goals. If you did not work out your career goals, we highly recommend that you do this before you continue. It is always a good to have an idea of what you want to do before you start school so you don’t waste your time and money.

Step 1: Finding a School

On the College Board home page you can search for a college that fits your needs. Look at the “College Search” box. If you don’t already have one or more colleges in mind, click “Finding Your College Fit” to select features that you are looking for in a college. On the other hand, if you already know the name of a college you want to learn more about, look for the “Search by college” box, type the name of the school, and click “Search.”

There are many factors that are important for you to consider when choosing a college, including the following. For each college you are considering, answer these questions by checking the college’s website or course catalog:


How far is the school from your home?
How far is it from where you work?
If you don’t have a car: Is there public transportation to the school? Does the school offer shuttle service?

Academic Programs

Look at your education and career goals again.
Does the school offer what you need?
Can you transfer credits from this school to another school if you need to? For example, you might start at a 2-year college and then decide to transfer to a 4-year program.

Types of Classes

What types of classes does the school offer?

  • Regular classes – Classes you must attend in person.
  • Online classes (distance education) – Classes you can take using the internet from home or anywhere that’s convenient. This method is best for students who can work independently most of the time and don’t need to sit in a class with others. Some of these classes are hybrid — a combination of both online and in-class meetings on campus.
  • Televised classes – Classes that are televised live to satellite campuses so that more students can participate. Students who are not in the actual classroom with the instructor can phone in their questions. Students can also borrow a copy of the videotape if they miss the class. This option is not available at every school.
Class Schedule

Some schools have classes on weekends or at night to make it easier for adults to attend.
It may be possible to attend part-time instead of full-time. This may be better for you if you have a job, family, or other responsibilities.

Ways To Get Credits

Some schools give credit for life experience related to your major.
Some give credit if you do well on certain exams, like the Advance Placement Test. For more information, go to the College Board website. On the home page, click the AP section.


How expensive is the school?
Some workplaces help employees pay for classes if the material covered will help them on the job. Check with your human resources office.
If you received very little financial aid, or none at all, could you afford to pay for the tuition, fees, and textbooks? (The Financial Planning unit has more information about this.)
Are you going to a public college or university? You can save a lot of money if you qualify for in-state tuition. Check with the college for the most current information. Here is some general information:

  • You have to prove that you have lived in the state, usually for one year.
  • You have to show that you plan to keep living in the state.
  • If you are changing the state you are living in, you may have to show you have enough money to be able to live independently.

Step 2: Campus Tour

Why go on a tour?

  • You will become familiar with the size of the campus. Maybe it is larger or smaller than you thought it was.
  • You will become familiar with various buildings on campus: the library, the admissions office, the financial aid office, the cafeteria, and the academic buildings.
  • You will become familiar with some important faces on campus. For example, it’s always good to know the people in the financial aid office.
  • Often, there are many people taking the tour with you. This is a good opportunity to meet future classmates.
  • On the first day of classes, you won’t have to worry about finding your way around.

Call the admissions office or check the school’s website for the tour schedule.

Things to do on a campus tour:

  • Bring a tablet or paper and a pen to write down what you think is important to know.
  • Introduce yourself to the tour guide and at least one or two people on the tour.
  • Ask for a campus map if they don’t provide one for you. Use your map to trace your steps. Take along the Campus Worksheet under the Student Success Skills section.
  • Ask questions! What is the average age student? Are most students part-time or full-time? Does the school provide a bus service?

What’s Next
Now that you’ve selected your colleges, it’s time to figure out how to apply to them!