Exploring College Options with My Fave Resources

There’s literally thousands of colleges across the country AND international options that are pretty accessible too. How do you start? Here are a few of my go-to resources that can help narrow down a list of colleges that not only meet but exceed your expectations. How? Well when you devote research…true honest research…not only do you find there are a million more accessible ADMISSIBLE options available to you, but you begin to discover your path and begin to feel just a little more confident walking along. So here it goes…


There are FEW sites that I’ll say check out the list and rankings section, and I mean FEW. Why? Because typically they are biased and/or lack real information to help you make an informed college choice. BUT Collegexpress is kind of cool because they have lists and rankings on things like Colleges with Innovative Academic Programs or Colleges that Have a Pass/Fail in the First Year.

You can focus your college search on a few key indicators and must-haves that narrow down. The best part is you can cross reference lists of topics important to you and if you start to find a college that pops up on multiple lists…well then my friend you might have a fit!

College Navigator

This one is for you parents. College affordability is a real thing. College Navigator allows you to not only see how much financial aid a college will offer BUT also will breakdown the percentage of merit versus need-based aid. So you as a family can look beyond “financial aid” and get a sense of what type of aid a university will offer for your family. They have pretty amazing numbers for the past three school years. My recommendation is to start building a college list and then cross reference with this.

YouVisit College Tours

Want to take a college tour in your PJ’s? Well you can! YouVisit literally is a virtual college tour, equipped with your very own talking tour guide, that will take you throughout campus as if you are there. It’s kind of amazing. Not every college is on this, but most are. If you can’t find a school, check out the college’s website. More and more colleges are putting together virtual tours so you can literally get a sense of what campus looks like down to the library and even the dorms.

Google Maps

I feel like this one always causes a pause. But really, Google Maps is a birds-eye view of campus and its surroundings. Want to know how far the airport is? Or if there’s a cool hike behind campus or maybe a museum you want to check out after class with your friends? Well Google Maps can tell it all. You’re welcome!


Think of a Yelp for colleges. That’s Unigo. A site that you can read reviews on food in the dorm, access to professors, the vibe on campus, etc. You can check it all out here. Just remember to read multiple reviews to get a general sense. Bonus, if you know a few students on campus ask them about their experience! Or even ask your counselor if they can connect you to past students on campus. Getting a student opinion is the best way to get a sense of really what’s happening on campus.

The Fiske Guide

I love using this book as a cross reference to online sites. The Fiske Guide is a great resource that provides overall campus vibe information, plus the most recent academic profile and overall school profiles. Again it’s a reference to websites as you get going. There’s nothing better than an actual book too…grab your post-it notes and highlighters and get going!

Colleges that Create Futures

Princeton Review has some great books. One that sticks out in particular is Colleges that Create Futures. Ultimately you’re looking to get a career, or create your own thing. Return on investment is big when considering colleges and it’s something I find isn’t researched enough. Choosing books that help walk you through career services on campus serve the greater student body is super key to graduating on top. Sure every college has a career office, but JUST how invested are they to helping you graduate with a job or a clear plan upon graduation.

Published by Casey Barneson

Author of The College Wellness Guide. Beverly Hills High School College Counselor.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: