Do’s and Don’ts for Finding the Right College

College List Do's and Don'ts

BIG Ideas:

  • Creating a college list can help make it easier to find the school that’s right for you.
  • Inventory your interests, academic and career goals, extracurricular activities, family finances, and geographic location before you build your college list.
  • Never choose a school you can’t see yourself attending.

You’re in the midst of one of the most exciting times in life – junior or senior year. It’s also one of the busiest times – between keeping up with homework assignments, participating in extracurricular activities, and of course, managing your busy social life.

And if all that isn’t enough, you have one of the most important assignments ahead: finding the right college. 

But with so many college options out there, how do you find the right one for you?

You can start by building a list of colleges. Here are some Do’s and Don’ts to help you prepare yours:


  • Take advantage of resources like CollegeBoard or College Scorecard to search for college options. 
  • Research admissions requirements, such as test scores and grades.
  • Consider your interests and academic and career goals. Be honest and flexible here. Allow space to change your mind as your interests evolve.
  • Schedule college visits, attend college fairs, and visit school social media sites and boards.
  • Think about your location preferences – do you want to attend school in or out-of-state? How far do you want to be from home?
  • Consider the reputation of the school when creating your list.
  • Look into extra-curricular activities that interest you today. What interests do you want to develop while you’re in school?
  • Evaluate your finances and budget to see what you and your family can afford.
  • Determine if a school offers financial aid.
  • Look for schools that offer “merit aid,” that is grants or scholarships offered by the school to attract the best students. You can save a lot of money this way.
  • Research additional scholarships offered by schools or other organizations.
  • Think about the size of the school you want to attend. How large are first-year classes? What about class size in later years?
  • Determine academic resources and support that may be available.
  • Research the school’s career services that could help you get a job after graduation. What internships do schools offer? Do companies come on campus to recruit students?
  • Look for the school’s offerings, such as fraternities/sororities/study abroad programs.
  • Research crime statistics for the school and its location.
  • Consider future networking and job-seeking opportunities offered by the school.
  • Consult with your guidance counselor about schools that might meet your needs.


  • Choose a school solely based on its name or reputation.
  • Pick a school just because your friends are attending it.
  • Choose a school that you know you can’t afford.
  • Pick a school that doesn’t have the program you wish to study.
  • Attend school in a geographic location you don’t like.
  • Apply to a school you cannot see yourself attending.
  • Go to a school that specializes in a specific program (e.g., engineering, music) that may not interest you.

Brazos is here to help you during your college journey

For more than 40 years, Brazos Higher Education has been helping make education more affordable for students and parents. As a non-profit, we can offer you low rates and personal service to help you afford the schools on your list. Contact us today!