Five things from The College Board to consider when choosing a college:

1. Size of the student body. Size could affect course offerings, extra
curricular activities, amount of personal attention from instructors
and number of books in the school library.

2. Location. Ask yourself if you want to visit home often or do you
want to experience a new part of the country. Also, consider urban vs.
small college towns.

3. Academic programs and cost. If you know what you want to study,
choose a school that offers the major. If you are undecided, choose a
school with an academically balanced course offering. Ask about costs
beyond tuition, including room and board and books.

4. Campus life. Consider extracurricular activities, community
involvement, ethnic or religious groups, fraternities and sororities,
and housing.

5. Retention and graduation rates. A good way to measure a school’s
quality and satisfaction is the percentage of students who return after
the first year and the percentage of students who remain to graduate.
This indicates responsible academic, social and financial support for

A planning guide for students by grade from The College Board:

Freshman: Meet with your high school guidance counselor to discuss
college plans. Review your schedule; make sure you enroll in
challenging courses. Find out about college entrance requirements,
costs and financial aid.

Sophomore: Consider taking the PSAT to prepare for the SAT. Start visiting colleges. Many colleges have virtual tours.

Junior: Make a list of your abilities, preferences and what you might
want to study. Read about majors and careers. Take the SAT or ACT
college entrance exam. Visit colleges.

Senior: Narrow your list to five to 10 colleges. Know the application
deadlines, test dates, and early admission deadlines. Send your high
school transcript to your colleges of interest. Build your resume,
including letters of recommendation.
Write application essays.