A long time ago, when I was a high school student trying to decide where to go to college, the process was rudimentary. I scoured the giant book of college rankings from US News and World Report, looking for the ones I thought I could get into (my GPA wasn’t the best) and the ones I could possibly afford. Next, I went to my high school’s college fair and looked at campus photos to finalize my application decisions. In the end, I didn’t end up at any of those colleges that had fancy photos at the college fair. I probably did pretty well…
Today, there are better ways for high school students to learn about colleges than through the rudimentary method that I have used and that you may have used. One of those best ways is to use an online tool like CollegeLab.
CollegeLab recently removed its paywall to make it free for high school students (ages 16 and up) to use to identify colleges that match the criteria they choose. Students can enter information about themselves to find colleges that might meet their needs. Some of the information students can enter includes GPA, SAT score, ACT score, academic interests, school type, school size, and location. CollegeLab then uses this information to find potential matches for students.
Part of what CollegeLab includes in its matching tool is an Acceptance Probability Calculator and an ROI Calculator. The ROI Calculator displays debt-to-income ratios associated with different majors at different schools, scholarship information, average repayment time data, and loan options.
Tools like CollegeLab can be helpful in starting the process of identifying colleges students may want to apply to. That said, I don’t think they can replace individual counseling from a good high school guidance counselor and/or other adults who have gone through the screening and application process.