There are many superaltives bantered about these days. “Best” seems to trump all. “Best” hotels. “Best” restaurants. “Best” haircut. [I once knew a man who only frequented what he believed to be the “best” of everything. He died. As I recall, he had the “best” funeral.]

And then, there are those best of the “best” -- “Best” colleges.

Ahh, yes. The “Best” Colleges In America (or the world. The Universe?) Rankings of the “best” 100, the “top” 25, and the “elite” 15.

“Best” for Forbes, for U.S. News, for Princeton Review. The real question, however, is which college is “best” for you?

With over 3000 accredited colleges in the United States, the task of finding a college that is a perfect fit can be daunting. Of course, it doesn’t have to be. In fact, the entire process (often referred to as the equivalent of The Long March), from choosing colleges to which to apply, to brainstorming essays, to completing applications, to selecting a school in which to enroll, to securing the money you need to pay for four or more years, should actually be fun.

So, where to start...

Naviance -- Use the College Search tool (found in the Colleges section) to get a feel for which colleges offer what you are looking for. As with other search tools, narrow the field by interests (academic and otherwise), location, campus attributes, and so on.

College Board -- Yup, College Board, the folks who brought you AP tests and the dreaded SAT. While we are loathe to recommend College Board for anything, their college search tool, along with other tidbits found in Big Future, is useful. And, unlike most things offered by College Board, it’s free! -- Register. Complete the Profile. Search for colleges. Then, click on the What Are My Chances tab to get a guesstimate as to the likelihood of being accepted, based on prior years admissions. [Not the Gospel, mind you. And past performance does not guarantee future results. Still, no harm in asking the question and shaking the old eight ball to get an answer, for whatever it may be worth.] -- Scientific? Hardly. Nevertheless, a good way to begin to research colleges that may be the perfect fit for you.

Virtual College Tours -- Time and money will keep you from visiting every college you may be interested in. And while the Internet can make the college application and admissions process seem overwhelming, it is extremely helpful in checking out colleges without ever having to get out of your pajamas. [Not that you were planning on getting dressed for class, anyway...] Take a look at sites such as and (because was already taken, no doubt). Take that virtual tour. See the campus and hear what each school has to offer. No, you won’t be able to jump on the dorm room mattress, or taste the tacos in the dining hall, but you will get a sense of whether that college is worthy of an actual visit some time down the road.

College Web Sites -- Where could you possibly learn more about a college than on its very own website? Probably nowhere, short of buying someone’s guidebook offering personal insights and dorm room minutia. Most colleges offer virtual tours on their own websites. Lots of rah, rah and self-aggrandizement, but you expected that, right? [Take such tours, and everything that appears on a college site, with a huge grain of salt. No college is going to tell you, “Hey, we suck. Stay away!” Websites are, after all, marketing tools, answering the inevitable supplemental question, “Why this college?”] Indeed. Peruse the websites of colleges that interest you. There will be a quiz later!

The Guidance Office -- Guidance? Yes. Guidance. You’ve probably passed it by on your way to the lunch room or to catch the late bus. Stop in some time. Say hello to your Guidance Counselor. He or she can guide you as you begin your search for that “best” fit college. Guidance is the front lines of college admissions (and you wouldn’t believe the wealth of college scholarship opportunities crammed into those metal filing cabinets). Pick their brains. Put your parents’ tax dollars to work!

Did we forget any resource? There are so many. Oh yeah. Here’s one more...

College Connection -- Call. Text. Email. Tweet. Snapchat? [No, not yet :-)] We are always here to offer advice, to lend a hand or a shoulder, to calm, to empathize, to commiserate, and to help you navigate that long and winding road to -- and through -- college!

FREE College Planning Workshop - April 28th

College Connection on Twitter  Follow Us

The College Whisperer  Like Us On Facebook