College Prep

6 Steps to Understanding the College Process: Step 2 – College Searches

Once your student has completed Step 1: Career Research, you’re ready to proceed on to Step 2 – the college search process.

This part of the process is both fun and a bit challenging. To start, your student needs to take the information they’ve gathered from their career research and figure out what educational majors they would need to obtain in order for them to pursue their desired career field(s). Best place to start with this is to Google “What college degree do I need for ______”.  Another great route to find out what degree they would need is to once again, interview a professional in their desired field. I can’t stress this avenue of research enough! You’ll never learn more and be inspired more than by talking with someone who enjoys their work. Have your students find someone they can look up to, who could even potentially be a mentor to them, and ask them all the questions they can (including what form of a degree is needed for that job).

Once your student has figured out that information – your next step is to go to  the and conduct a college search. Before you start the college search questionnaire, be sure to create a student account that they can save their research information in and come back to later.  At the College Board your student can filter their school options by size, price, location, degree options, and more. Once they have their comprehensive results list, have your students read each schools profile information and visit each schools website to get a better understanding of what each college has to offer. Be careful not to worry too early about that initial sticker price of each school or if the school is public or private. I highly encourage you and your student to look at both public and private options – as we will discuss in later articles, limiting yourself to only public schools or colleges, that appear on the surface to have really good tuition pricing, will drastically limit your potential options. Under the surface, there is a lot more crucial information that will determine what you will pay for college than that initial, often scary sticker price. So for now keep that list open and dream big! In later articles I will show you how to whittle down that list to schools that will give you the best bang for your buck while still providing your student with an excellent education in the degree they desire.

If your student happens to choose a career field that doesn’t require a four year degree, I will be working on an article in the near future about 2 year college options, trade schools, apprenticeships and other educational avenues that could be appropriate for them.

In the mean time, while your student is working on compiling this list of possible college – you the parent will be working on Step 3: calculating your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which I will discuss in my next article. Until then, continue to encourage your student to work steps 1 and 2.

For a list of all six steps, see College Prep Cheat Sheet.

And as always, if you have questions please feel free to comment on this article or email



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