What Should You Look At When Narrowing Your List?

Narrowing your college list can be a bit difficult, especially if you don’t know what to actually compare. You’ll want to consider what’s important for you when it comes to your education and college experience, but if you don’t know what to start, we’ve put together a list of some things to think about when answering “What to look for when narrowing your list of colleges?”.

what to look for when narrowing your list


Of course, one of the first things you should look at when narrowing down your list is academics. A college should absolutely have your intended major before you apply, but you’ll also want to see how the actual programs compare. You can look at

  • Reviews for professors
  • Job opportunities and rates for the college and major after graduation
  • Different requirements for the programs for graduation
  • Minor options
  • How the classes and program options align with your personal career goals


Do you have a particular state you’d love to attend college in? Or maybe you’d like to attend school close to your hometown? What’s your ideal weather? It’s important to be sure you’re going to be happy wherever you decide to attend college, so don’t overlook this factor! Consider what’s important to you when it comes to locale. If you hate snow, for example, you don’t want to attend school in an area that has an intense winter.

The Surrounding Area

Along with location, you should also think about the setting you want to live in. Would you do better in a city? The country? Somewhere in between?

A city can offer a multitude of options from theaters to museums, while the country can be the perfect place for fishing, hiking, and skiing. What do you want to do in your downtime? Is a city the right speed for you, or would you prefer something a bit slower?

The School’s Culture

You’ll also want to do some digging into the school’s culture. See what current students and alumni have said about the college, area, professors, and your intended program. Read the reviews! If the school constantly gets bad reviews, it may not be the best option.

And think about clubs, extracurriculars, sports, and events you’ll want to participate in. If you’re absolutely dedicated to any club or sport, you may be better off attending a college that has that group than a school that doesn’t. You may also find a new sport you’ve never considered before or been offered in your area, but sounds interesting, like fencing!


While a sticker price isn’t always an accurate picture of how much a school costs (you’ll want to look at an estimated net price instead), it can be a good starting point. While you can take out loans and may qualify for grants and scholarships, you should absolutely take college expenses into account. You will have to pay back any loans back at a later date, and the most expensive school on your list may not be the best option for your financial future.

You should weigh the cost along with other factors, including job opportunities and career salaries after graduation.

In addition to this list, you really need to think about what’s personally important to you when it comes to your enjoyment, education, and personal preferences. But considering all of these factors can definitely help you narrow down your college list. Try out our College Match Tool which breaks down all these aspects into an easy to digest list.