Start Your College Search with 3 Easy Steps

By Stacie Tyler | Published

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Are you searching for the perfect college? Still unsure about where you would like to go? With so many different options, it might be easier to break down everything into steps. Then, it will most likely get done and you will start to see progress. Otherwise, the college search will become a major headache. Let’s walk through three key ways to make your college search simple and easy.

There is College Search and Comparison Spreadsheet that is free to download. If you have already started a search and need a way to track the application process, check out the College Application Tracker.

Compare Up to 10 Colleges
Quickly Compare Admission or Costs

Step #1 Download The College Search And Comparison Chart

Steps to download:

  1. Click here to open the Google spreadsheet
  2. Login to your Google Account
  3. To edit,  select “File” and “Make a Copy”
  4. This will automatically save a copy to your Google Drive Account
  5. Notice there are up to 10 different schools you can compare

How should I start using the Spreadsheet?

At the top left hand corner there is a bright yellow box that has a direct link to the College Board Search. This is has a database with all the basics about every school. It also matches the chart perfectly so it is easy to input the information.

What fields do I need to update or change?

You will want to update all of the information. The chart will compare up to ten schools, but you certainly do not have to use all ten.

To change a website link:

Example: Replace the website in bold. Type in the college’s website and make sure it is in between the quotation marks.

=HYPERLINK(““, “Change link”)

What information should I consider?

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The comparison chart was designed to cover the most important areas. As you narrow down your search and make decisions there will be more to consider, but for now these are the basic. Make it work for you. Add additional sections or rows if something was missed.

pick a university

#2 The Six Key Categories And Why They Are Important

Everyone will look for specific things while searching for a school. We value things differently so it can be a challenge to come up with a basic comparison chart. However, most everything will fall under six main categories.

What are the main categories to consider?

Start with the Basics and then move on to Admissions, Application Details, Cost, Academics and finally Student life. Almost everything you would need to consider for a simple comparison is covered under these main areas.

Why should these items be included?

Over the last decade, I have helped tons of students start their college search. These areas were compared often. If an idea is missing, add anything you wish to this document. The purpose is to make the search easy not hard. This is just a starting point.

college considerations

#3 Narrowing Down The List

How can I start to narrow down the list?

The more practice you have comparing and contrasting, weighing pros and cons, the easier the decision process will be. Not everyone thinks this is an enjoyable task. The chart makes it easy and simple to visualize. If your number one concern is cost, you can quickly identify the colleges that will not be a good fit. Maybe your goal is to balance academics and the ease of the admissions process. You can make an informed decision if all the facts are organized in front of you.

I still feel lost and overwhelmed. What now?

First, realize this is a difficult decision and it is normal to feel overwhelmed. After the basic research is done, it will be a good idea to review the information with a parent, mentor, counselor or teacher. Another resource would be the colleges you are strongly considering. Setup meetings and start writing down questions. Visit the campus and see if it feels like the right fit. A degree usually takes 4 years to complete if you attend a University, so it is well worth the extra effort to make sure it works.