All of a sudden, the aisles and racks of shoes seem entirely overwhelming. Instead of going with your gut or choosing the first thing that seems to work, you’re probably going to spend a lot of time on this decision. You’ll likely consider style, comfort, and color. You might think about the brand or the name. You’ll probably evaluate how you spend your time and where you spend your days.
This may describe how you feel in the college search process. You’ve made the big important decision to go to college, and now you are faced with hundreds of decisions covering locations to majors, education philosophy to class size. Choosing a college can be incredibly overwhelming, and sometimes it’s tempting to quit before even you begin.
I know that the shoe story is a bit silly, but there’s actually something the shoe search and college search have in common. In both cases, you are looking for the best fit. But finding the best fit among thousands of options doesn’t sound easy.
There is good news, though! Many students feel this way. And because it is such a common experience, there are plenty of great resources out there to help you.
In this series, I’m going to walk you through one college search site, one that I like a lot. It’s called CollegeXpress, and I use it for a number of reasons. One, it’s free. We love free. Two, it gives you the option to save. As you go through a college search, you want to be able to note colleges you like. This lets you do that. Three, it has these really creative lists. You may not know now why those lists are so great, but you’ll see.
Ready to get started?
Great! Before we head to the website, I’m actually going to have you do something else first. Something crazy. Something that requires pencil and paper.
- Click on this link. The author of this site is the creator of those lists I mentioned.
- Click on the PDF version of the worksheet.
- Print it out, and fill it out!
- Now you have an idea of some of the qualities you care about in choosing a college. This will be helpful.
Moving on to CollegExpress!
- Go to CollegExpress.
- Create an account. It’s free.
- Once you create an account, you can access the site.
- Notice the bar along the top: College Search, Graduate Search, Scholarship Search, Lists and Rankings, Summer Programs, Explore Interests. We'll work our way through these, taking one at a time.
- See the triangle in the top left corner? That’s the search area. You can type in a school’s name or anything for that matter and get information on it.
- There’s also a triangle in the top right corner. That’s where all of your saved “stuff” goes. Favorite colleges, favorite lists, favorite scholarships, even favorite articles – they all can be saved right there.
Basic Search - Let's give it a try!
- Choose College Search, the first image in the top bar.
- Along the left side there is the starting point for the search.
- Fill out the search options as best as you can. If you don’t have a preference, you can leave it blank. You don’t have to be too specific here since you’re just starting out and learning the site.
- When you get your search results, you can refine again.
Trying it on For Size
- Once you have a college you’re interested in, click on the name of the school. All sorts of information will come up about the school.
- Notice that the blue bar along the top has different things you can look at about the school, everything from an Overview to Campus to Athletics.
- You don’t have to read every word: check out what’s important to you at this point. If you’re interested in Athletics, hop over to that page. If you want to know about the campus (which includes where it’s located and what there is to do), spend some time there. The point is to begin to get a picture of what this school is like, so you can decide if it’s a possible fit or not.
- If you like the school, click the green button at the top that says “Save.”
Feel free to roam around the site and become familiar with it. In the next post, I'll share with you more about how you can search for a college that fits. If you're feeling adventurous and want to check out other college search sites, visit this page for a list of other favorites.