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The college landscape is vast. With a little research, you can make a list of colleges that would fit you. Think about your career goals and what works best for you (big vs. small campus, close to home vs. far away). Contact admissions offices and make visits when possible. Need some help? Connect to a school counselor or a College Access Program in NYC.


  • How do I find the right college for me?

    For a college to be a good fit for you, it should match your interests, skills, and needs. Sometimes we hear that a college is a great or prestigious school, but the question to ask is, “Would it be great for me?” Finding colleges that would be a good fit requires three basic steps:

    • First, assess yourself. Ask yourself some specific questions that will help you clarify what you are looking for in a college. For example, you might ask yourself whether you want to attend a small or large college, what kind of majors you want your college to offer, or how far away from home you are willing to go.
    • Second, do research to find schools that meet these criteria. When researching colleges, you should look broadly at first, find lots of colleges that fit your wants and needs, and then narrow down your list. (See FAQ on college research below.)
    • Third, create a balanced list of schools to apply to. Narrow down your research to a list of approximately 8-15 schools that best fit what you are looking for. It is important that your final list include affordable options and be divided into different levels of difficulty. For example, your list may include a “reach”, “target”, and “safety” category. Review your list with a college adviser.
  • When should I get started on my applications?

    The best time to start working on your applications is right after they are released, about a year prior to when you plan to enroll. For example, for students starting college in fall 2013, colleges released their applications on August 1, 2012. Check with the schools on your final college list to find out their deadlines – all of your applications must be in by their deadlines! If you are in high school, it is likely your school may have some internal deadlines as well. Starting a year ahead of time is ideal, but if you are getting a late start, it is possible to complete the process in much less time so long as you meet the deadlines.

  • How do I begin applying?

    Find out what documents are required for an application to each college on your list. Generally, colleges require your application to include an official high school transcript or GED, SAT or ACT scores, an essay, and letters or recommendation. Create a folder for each college you are applying to. At the front of each folder, put a checklist of what you’ll need for the application and when it’s due.

  • How do I research colleges?

    You should use a variety or resources including online college search sites.  Consider factors like size, location, available academic programs/majors, costs, and campus life.  Spend time researching different colleges to get a sense of which ones might be right for you. There are also helpful books like the College Admissions Data Sourcebook, College Board’s Book of Majors, or The Insider’s Guide to Colleges. Other valuable ways of learning about colleges are to attend college fairs and visit college campuses. Reach out to students attending schools that interest you through mutual friends, campus visits or the NYC College Line forums.

  • How do I find college fairs?

    Many high schools host college fairs where representatives from different colleges are available to answer your questions. Ask your school’s colleges office if they will be hosting a college fair. Colleges will have fairs at designated sites that are open to students from any high school. Call college admissions offices to find out about upcoming college fairs. A national college fair is held each year at the Jacob Javits Convention Center.

  • How do I visit colleges?

    Call the admissions office at a college you are interested in visiting to find out when they host campus tours or open house days. You can also check with nearby community based college access organizations to see if they are hosting college trips.

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