6 Ways to Start Your College List

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Empowerly Team
Empowerly Team

Our collaborative team of content writers and researchers stay up-to-date on the latest news to help you ace your applications. We hope you enjoy the blog.

Yes, starting your college list can be intimidating. Are you the type to look at every shirt in the store before choosing the one you like? Or do you walk in and pick the first one you see?

Choosing a college or university, on the other hand, can be a big task because there are hundreds of choices out there. You may feel overwhelmed but it’s important to make a careful choice. If you have a list of criteria, you can narrow your list to a manageable few schools that fit what you are looking for.

Which factors are most important to consider when making your list of schools? Let’s explore the basics to get you started.

You’ll want to keep some kind of spreadsheet or list. This will help you keep track of all your notes in one place. We recommend a spreadsheet with multiple columns so you can include all the categories of criteria we discuss below!

Most Important College List Starter: major

Select schools where you can study your major with good faculty and academic support. The reason you are going to college is to get a degree in your chosen major. A good school for your major can make a big difference. Also make sure there are alternative majors if you decide to switch majors at some point early in your studies.

For example, if you’d like to major in engineering, make sure they have several engineering degrees (such as mechanical, electrical, and computer) as well as quality faculty in math and other related areas of study.


Important to note: extracurricular activities

Do the colleges you’re considering have a club for your favorite activity? Or do they offer classes in something you have always wanted to try? College should be rigorous, but should also offer some great activities. Do you like baseball? Maybe there’s a club to join for baseball fans.

Next: consider study opportunities

Interested in an internship or study abroad? Want to do a special project for your major? Having extra opportunities to learn while at college can really enrich your experience and better prepare you for a career.

For size: list the student-faculty ratio

If having more individualized attention is important to you, you’ll want a lower ratio. Some students don’t mind larger classes while others excel when given more individual attention.

Definitely: weigh college campus life

What type of atmosphere do you feel most comfortable in? Every school has its own feel but you want to be on a campus where the activities and social interaction is just about right for you. Select several schools that fit what you’re looking for whether that be lots of activities through on campus housing or great cultural activities.

Optional: list the location of the college

Do you like urban living? Or do you prefer something more suburban or even rural? Take this into consideration when thinking about if you want to venture off campus. Some students like a trip into the city on weekends while others prefer staying on campus. Decide where you would feel comfortable.

Once you have a list of 8-15 schools that fit your criteria, you can further examine the costs, scholarship opportunities, and application difficulty of each school. Having a working list of colleges in the beginning is helpful in the college search process so that you can compare schools and better determine the best fit for you.

Empowerly can help you in your college search. Reach out today!

Questions? Let us know!