College Search Guide

College Search Guide

If you’re just embarking on your college search journey, we can help with information, advice, and tips on finding the best college for you.

Are you considering going to an online college or attending college on campus? Are you looking for a community college or a four-year bachelor’s degree program? Public or private school? A large research university or a small liberal arts college?

And once you figure all that out, what are the next steps in the college admissions process? Read our College Search Guide for tips on how to select the colleges where you’ll ultimately be submitting your application.

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Your College Search Guide

The college planning process can be pretty intense. By junior year, millions of high school students start searching for colleges, attending college fairs, meeting with college representatives, and more. On top of that, there are literally thousands of schools to choose from. So how can you choose the right college for you?

It depends what you’re looking for. Lucky for you, we’ve got countless different ways for you to explore colleges. From private colleges to public universities; from your first college visit to the moment you accept your offer, we’ve got search tools and rankings to help.

Think of us as your virtual school counselor—a student search service complete with comprehensive tips on building your college list, researching colleges, and finding a school with bright college students just like you.

College Selection Factors

Of course, the first step is knowing what you’re looking for. There are numerous factors to consider as you narrow down a list of 10 to 20 potential colleges. Factors that you should consider in the selection process include:

  • Cost
  • Geography
  • Accreditation
  • Reputation
  • Faculty
  • Academic Accessibility
  • Relevant Degree Programs
  • Campus Size
  • Campus Culture
  • Availability of Online Courses/Degrees

Identifying the Selection Factors That Matter to You

Check out some of our top resources for identifying the most important selection factors for you:

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College Search Tools

Once you know what qualities you’re looking for in a college, you can get started on your college search with a look at our College Search Tools. We offer several different ways to customize your search so you can find the best college for you:

For a look at some of our other favorite college search resources, check out our ranking of The Best College Search Tools.

Search for the Best Schools

If you plan to begin your college search at the very top, jump in with a look at The Best Universities in the World.

You can also check out the very best schools in other major categories including private schools, public colleges, HBCUs, and more.

Tips For Finding the Best Schools

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Search for the Best Online Schools

More students than ever before are choosing to attend college online. And a growing number of academic programs are now available online.

Check out some of our most popular online college rankings:

Popular Online College Rankings

You can start with our Guide to Online Degrees.

Flexible Online Degree Options

There are also all kinds of specialized online degree options that you could consider including:

Helpful Tips For Choosing Online Schools

Not sure how to start your online college search? Check out our helpful tips.

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Search for Colleges By State

More students than ever before are applying to colleges close to home. Whether you’re an online student who wishes to visit colleges before applying or a high school student looking to save money by attending a public university in-state, it makes sense to begin your college search within your state. Fortunately, we have numerous ways to break down your local college search.

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Search for Colleges By Cost

Cost is a major factor for most students. Fortunately, many colleges take steps to provide a quality education for a reasonable tuition cost. That’s why we offer numerous ways to find schools that match your budget:

For more on the cost of college, including comprehensive information on college scholarships and financial aid, jump to our Guide to Paying for College.

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Search for Colleges By Discipline

One great way to find colleges is to search for schools that excel in your chosen area of study. If you already have a college major in mind, you may want to begin your search by looking for schools according to discipline. You can get started by browsing our index of college majors.

See the best schools in every college major to learn more.

Now sure how to identify your area of study? Get Help Choosing a Major.

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Search for Specialized College Experiences

The Best Community Colleges

If you’re at the beginning of your college search, now is a great time to think about options like community college. Community college may be more affordable and accessible. Moreover, many community colleges have an extremely wide range of online associate degree options. Find out more about community college options with a look at the following tips and resources:

Additional Community College Tips

The Best Christian Colleges

Students seeking a faith-based education or a higher education from within a community of faith have a number of excellent options to choose from.

Jump to our rankings of:

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College Ranking Insights

If you’re considering the top universities, we’re guessing you’ve consulted some of the major college rankings. Before you make your ultimate decision, make sure you know what these rankings really mean:

Or get tips on studying, student life, and much more with a look at our Student Resources.

Do you have a question about this topic? Ask it here