There are so many resources available to parents and students during the college search process that it can become very overwhelming. One of the main reasons I started My Kid’s College Choice is to point parents and students in the right direction to find the best college search resources.
The College Search Resources You Should Be Using and Why
- A college search spreadsheet to track your potential schools – This helps you stay organized when it comes to schools to visit, schools to apply to and more. Use my free college search spreadsheet template or create your own.
- A good college search website/search engine – This helps you identify potential schools that meet the criteria you are looking for. I have done a comparison of 14 sites and the criteria you can search on each. My personal favorites are CollegeData, Big Future, and Noodle.
- If you don’t have time to create your own college list, check out the DIY College Rankings College Search Spreadsheet. Michelle Kretzschmar has done the work for you and you just filter to find what you want.
- FAFSA4caster – Make sure you know what your expected family contribution is estimated to be. The FAFSA4caster gives you an initial idea of what colleges will expect you to pay out of pocket for your kid’s college education.
- College websites – Explore the websites for your student’s potential schools to narrow down whether a school is really a viable option. You can find information on merit scholarships, admission criteria, statistics on who usually gets admitted, college visit options, majors offered and more. Make sure to look for the school’s net price calculator so you can see what this school may offer in financial aid based on your student’s circumstances. The best net price calculators also estimate merit aid based on your student’s GPA and test scores.
As a parent navigating through the college search process, the key things you need to know are:
- What schools might be right for my student?
- How much is college going to cost me?
- What will it take for my student to be admitted?
The right college search resources can help you answer those questions. Then you need a place to keep track of all those answers. That’s where the college search spreadsheet comes in.
If you stick to these basic college search resources, and maybe throw in a few articles/opinions on what to look for in a college, it can make the college search process much easier to navigate.