11th Grade College Planning
College Guidance Network (CGN School)
11th Grade (c/o '2024) College Planning Book
What does your dream school have? Think about components of a campus that are important to you and will allow you to thrive within that environment. Once you have your list of interests/values/wants/needs, you'll be able to use the search tools below to help you find colleges that have the components on your list.
- Academics: What type of learning suits you best? Small-discussion based, interdisciplinary, etc. What type of academic environment do you want, academically challenging and/or competitive. What type of academic support do you need (math center, tutoring labs, support services for learning disabilities, etc.)
- Social: Think about the types of activities your future friends and you will be doing on campus (growing your own sustainable farm for local food, going to football games, checking out art museums or local bands) How BIG or SMALL is the campus?
- Extras: Again, start with dreaming. What type of ethos does your college have? Ethos is the heart, mission and drive of a college campus. So what would your ethos have? Sustainability, community impact, research and higher thinking, challenging academic boundaries, social justice, etc.
- Environment: What do your actual surroundings look like? Are you in the heart of a big city, do you have access to a city but are a bit more removed. Are you at a smaller campus in the Pacific Northwest nestled in a quieter town?
Resources to help your search
Naviance (FOR STUDENTS only) stays with you throughout high school. You'll need to update your colleges I'm thinking about list and ultimately your colleges I'm applying to list. Your counselor and the college center will work with you in Naviance. Use the SuperMatch search under 'College' tab to plug in things you want and it will suggest colleges based on your preferences. If you favorite college(s) Favorite colleges and see a schedule of colleges visiting our campus every fall in Naviance.
College Express The reason why College Express is such a wonderful college exploration tool is because of their lists. You may be familiar with U.S. News & World Report’s College Rankings. Rankings can be misleading, cause anxiety and overwhelmingly make it seem like there are only a few “good” schools available. This just is not true. College Express has lists broken up by interest, learning styles, academic and social experience and so much more. Here are a few examples of some of the lists you could explore: Colleges for students needing a second chance. 10 colleges that get Greek life right. Colleges for the artist who doesn’t want to go to art school. 10 cool colleges for entrepreneurs.
Unigo Think of this as a “yelp” for college. Just like Yelp, colleges are reviewed on a first-hand experience from the students who have attended or are attending the institution. So while all colleges may seem to sound the same (i.e. clubs, Greek life, access to professors, sports teams, research and study abroad opportunities, etc.) Unigo lets students explore the “vibe” of a campus, the stereotypes, food and dorm ratings, campus facilities, ratings for nearby shops, extracurricular activities, off-campus housing and more. Dive a little deeper and hear from students. As with Yelp I caution students to read multiple reviews to get a bigger picture.
Google Maps This one might seem out of place, but I promise it’s a powerful tool. It can be hard to have faith that a college is a good “fit” for you when have never visited the campus. Google maps has the amazing ability to help create a vision of not just the campus, but its surroundings. Put the university in the search engine and zoom out a little. What do you see? Museums? Mountains? Access to a metro station that takes you into town? Where is the closest airport? What is the population of the town around campus? What does the closest town have? Google maps can help paint a bigger picture, use it and explore.
YouVisit Take a virtual tour of campus and hear from a recorded tour guide. Take a tour of the science facilities, learn more specific facts about a brand new gym and just explore a little more. It can be tough to decide where to take a college tour and you may not get to travel all over, but this is a free accessible resource as your fingertips.
Corsava Cards You can go through a deck of cards that present different components of a college and decide if you must have it as a part of your experience, or if you simply don't need it. This is a great starting point and helps you get a sense of what colleges offer.
Western Undergraduate Exchange Search for affordable out-of-state options. A lot of my families will automatically take an out-of-state school off the table purely because of cost. The initial “sticker price” of tuition can be shocking, especially out of state. Western Undergraduate Exchange offers a list of colleges in various Western states who offer a reduced tuition rate to qualifying neighboring states.
Visit a campus! Small, large, research based, liberal arts, art institute, in a city. What does it feel like? Visit! Find a few different campuses to explore (private, public, large, small, religious, institute, etc.) Even if you plan on going out of state, the value of touring a college and looking closer at programs is immeasurable. Visit our page for more information.