Do Your Research Before Choosing a College
While there have been debates about the value of higher education amid rising college costs, the fact remains that most well-paying jobs require some form of post-secondary education. In addition, continuing your education after high school can put your mind firmly on a path of lifelong learning, which will be critical in helping you continually adapt to a rapidly changing world and work environment.
When researching colleges, you should look for resources that provide unbiased data. If nothing else, this data will provide conversation points when you engage with your prospective schools. A good resource for unbiased data is the “College Scorecard” from the College Affordability and Transparency Center of the U.S. Department of Education.
View the College Scorecard
The Scorecard compares costs, graduation rates, loan default rates and monthly median borrowing costs post-graduation, which are all critical factors in helping to determine if the school you choose will help meet your goals.
Additional Factors to Consider:
- Schools determined as "Best Values" by national publications
- Schools most respected for your intended major
- Schools that allow for creative options, such as commuting or the transfer of credits from two-year colleges
- The types of jobs graduates receive in your presumed major
Additional Resources to Help You Choose a College:
The site provides a college database and numerous rankings to help you see how your prospective colleges compare.
Big Future by the College Board
The site’s "Find College" tab can help you in your college search.
The site offers a college search tool as well as a database of college reviews from former students/alumni.
Complete Guide to College Admissions
This free resource provides a step-by-step rundown of the college application and admissions process, as well as a comprehensive list of (and links to) all necessary administrative and financial materials.
Understanding Accreditation from College Affordability Guide
You may consider a certain school for the sake of convenience or saving money. This page explains what to look for to ensure the school has recognized accreditation.
The site provides a search tool to help students compare colleges at a basic level.
Remember to keep your options open until you are able to carefully review what each college offers you. Apply to multiple schools (at different cost levels) and apply for scholarships, grants and other financial aid. See which school offers you the best financial aid package, and calculate your final costs. Weigh those final costs against the benefits and “value” you’ll gain from a degree from each college. Clear “winners” will likely emerge when you use a data-driven approach to selecting your college.
Please note that the ACT Foundation does not control, nor does it necessarily endorse, the content or privacy policies of the outside sites linked above.
The U.S. Department of Education has developed a College Scorecard database enabling you to compare college costs, graduation rates, loan default rates and monthly median borrowing costs.
"This is a note of sincere appreciation for helping me realize that I could attend the college of my dreams and have options outside of outstanding loans or not attending college altogether."
– Theimus Robertson, ACT Foundation Scholarship Recipient