Lesson:Finalizing Your College List. Prior to committing yourself to the time and money involved in submitting college applications, it is critical that you begin the process with a realistic listing of colleges based on academic match and affordability. A well researched final college list should have institutions from multiple categories, such as public, private, research universities, and liberal arts colleges. In this way, you are assured of being provided with a broad range of financial aid offers and institutional scholarship opportunities. Based on your family’s financial needs, your academic performance, college credits earned during high school, desired college major, and career aspirations, your list may include 2-year and 4-year institutions.

Use your College Research Sheet as a reference and return to your Narratives form and complete the ‘Finalizing My College List‘ with your college research and the information taken from the CollegeData website (Overview Tab) for each of your colleges.

  • The information that you are about to gather is to be placed into the ‘Module 12 – Narrative: Finalizing My College List’ pages of your narrative document. (Note: If you have more than 10 colleges, you should make additional copies of the tables prior to continuing.)  Add your GPA and your highest test scores (SAT or ACT) to the top of each table.
  • Go to the CollegeData website to supplement the information that you have already gathered about each of your colleges: https://www.collegedata.com/.
  • You will be able to collect most of the information required to complete each table from the ‘Overview’ tab on the CollegeData website.
    • Admission Rate
    • Median GPA and test scores
    • Application Deadline for the Admission Cycle that you have chosen
    • Application Fee
    • If an essay is required
    • Very Important Factors in selecting students
    • Important Factors in selecting students

Note: Type each of the factors deemed ‘Very Important’ and ‘Important’ in the appropriate boxes on each table.

  • You should already have the financial information from your Net Price calculations. If not, you will be able to collect most of the financial information required to complete each table from the ‘Money Matters’ tab.

Lesson 2: Is your college list sufficient and realistic? Have you thoroughly researched the institutions in your state of residence? While many students and parents mistakenly believe that a public state university is a student’s lowest cost college option, it does mean that it cannot be your lowest cost option. Consequently, you should begin your college research within your state university system which is designed to provide accessible and affordable postsecondary options for resident-students.

  • College Factual’s College Combat: The College Factual website gathers data about most 4-year colleges and universities in the United States. The College Combat page, provides an opportunity for you to compare two colleges side-by-side, based on a number of factors.

  • Research your state university system: Perform an Internet search on “university system of + your state.” For example, the Internet search “university system of georgia” would guide students to the University System of Georgia (http://www.usg.edu), a listing of 33 public colleges and universities.
  • Reciprocity Agreements: If you are interested in attending a public university in another state and avoiding out-of-state tuition charges, perform an Internet search on the phrase, “name of your state + tuition reciprocity agreements.” You should be able to identify any regional tuition reciprocity agreements in which your state participates. For example, Valdosta State University offers in-state tuition to students who are residents of Tennessee, Florida, Alabama, and South Carolina. The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators website provides a listing of the four largest regional programs (Southern, Midwestern, Western, and New England).
  • If you are considering a technical or community college pathway, perform an Internet search on “your state + community colleges” or “your state + technical colleges.”
  • The most up-to-date source of information is obtained directly from the college. However, many colleges are not transparent in providing information and their websites can be difficult to navigate. 

The following websites may also allow you to gather the information needed to complete a column in your College Research Sheet for each 4-year institution of interest: